ARIZONA CARDINALS

Barnwell: Cardinals mismanaged offseason after DeAndre Hopkins trade

Apr 5, 2020, 7:55 AM | Updated: 2:46 pm
General manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during team OTA's at the Dignity Healt...
General manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during team OTA's at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on May 29, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals dumped David Johnson’s bloated salary, swapped fourth-round draft picks and essentially gave up a second-rounder to the Houston Texans to acquire DeAndre Hopkins. That was widely considered a heist.

Was the rest of the Cardinals’ start to free agency all that good, though?

Arizona slotted free agents into openings at defensive tackle and both linebacker positions, but ESPN’s Bill Barnwell finds it off-putting how the Cardinals paid their top three free-agent additions.

Even the Cardinals, who had the Hopkins deal fall into their lap, have managed to get their other major decisions wrong. Contracts for players such as Jordan Phillips, Devon Kennard, and De’Vondre Campbell have voidable years attached to reduce Arizona’s short-term cap issues in 2020. That’s a reasonable move if you have Drew Brees under contract at $25 million, but not really if you’re adding marginal defensive players. Campbell’s deal has a ridiculous four voidable years attached. It’s the sort of financial mismanagement that would lead you to take away somebody’s checkbook. Think about how foolish that strategy is … and how much better Arizona’s offseason still looks than Houston’s.

That’s quite the backhanded compliment.

It’s true that the Cardinals have found unique ways to attract free agents to the desert.

Campbell’s contract is for only one year, but general manager Steve Keim didn’t want to put all $6 million of the guaranteed money on the salary cap for this year. Campbell’s base salary is $1 million and includes a $5 million signing bonus that is counting against the cap just $1 million spread out for the next five seasons.

According to Spotrac.com, the last four seasons automatically void after the fifth day of the 2021 league year, putting a total of $2 million against the 2020 cap and the remaining $4 million on 2021’s cap sheet.

Phillips’ contract for three years and $30 million also automatically voids after the third year. It carries a $2 million cap hit into 2023 but only a $4 million hit this coming season before skyrocketing to $12 million in 2021-22.

Similarly, Kennard’s three-year deal worth $20 million voids in 2023 and still counts as $1.25 million in cap space that year. His hit is only $2.5 million this coming year but jumps to $8 million (2021) and $8.25 million (2022).

Spacing those deals out, of course, allowed the Cardinals to add multiple starting-caliber players on the defensive side. It’s just going to bog things down in the coming years.

Couple that with the potential restructuring of Hopkins’ deal, and things might get financially tight down the line.

All salary figures via Spotrac.com.

Arizona Cardinals

Nick Scott #33 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals after a recep...
Sam Graveline

PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals head into training camp expecting to have healthy competition at a handful of positions, including at tight end.
24 hours ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after beating the Houston Texans 31-5...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals Corner: The timeframe of Kyler Murray’s contract extension

We haven't heard much lately when it comes down to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and a contract extension. When will a new deal get done?
24 hours ago
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals LB Markus Golden among players with best team-friendly deals

Arizona Cardinals LB Markus Golden's contract cracked PFF analyst Brad Spielberger's top team-friendly deals ranking.
24 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray among top 5 QBs in multiple PFF passing metrics

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's accuracy was on point in 2021, especially when looking at deep throws.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals an...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Renner: Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons a breakout candidate in Year 3

Cardinals' inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons was named a potential year three breakout candidate by PFF's Michael Renner.
3 days ago
Rodney Hudson #61 of the Arizona Cardinals in the huddle during the game against the Tennessee Tita...
Wills Rice

Former Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley thinks offense needs to find identity

"For (Kyler) the next step is just grabbing everyone around him, whether he just needs one play and everyone will look to him," Shipley said.
4 days ago
Barnwell: Cardinals mismanaged offseason after DeAndre Hopkins trade