The Fitzgerald Dream Dies

Many say there was never a shot at all. But any chance the Eagles had at prying away Larry Fitzgerald from Arizona is now gone. The Cardinals have no one left to chase after. No big-time free agents to sign (Alan Faneca signed with the Jets), no big-time players to retain (Calvin Pace did too!).

For the Cardinals, there’s no real reason NOT to pay Fitzgerald the $15 million he’s owed. There’s no one else to spend it on, and it’s not like you can save it for next year.

Samuel Update

If this is true (and I’m still skeptical), how I feel about the situation will depend entirely on how much money he’s getting. If it’s the $30 million guaranteed he’s looking for, I won’t understand it.

That’s what I wrote this morning as rumors were swirling that the Eagles were going to sign him. Now the deal appears imminent, and we actually have some numbers from a MSM source (John Clayton) — 5 years, $47 million.

How much of that money is guaranteed remains to be seen, but this less than half of what he was rumored to be demanding only a week ago! Again, we’ll see what part of this contract is “for real”, but I’ve gone from puzzled and disappointed to being a bit excited. I’m quite curious to see what the plans are for the rest of the secondary and what the players think about those plans.

Cardinals Free Agency

The Arizona Cardinals have entered the start of free agency with the shackles of the Larry Fitzgerald contract still tightly on them. According to Kent Somers, they are no closer to a deal than they were a week ago.

With every passing hour, it gets harder to retain Calvin Pace, who is visiting other teams. And it is harder to make any other improvements, either (like, say an Alan Faneca).

This has got to get resolved quickly or it will just be another frustrating and damaging episode for a franchise that has a long history of them.

The Cardinals front office must be frustrated, and surely the sharks are lurking.  You know the Eagles have called.

Asante Samuel… For Real?

It’s all over the Eagles blogosphere. GCobb’s Micah Warren (original story in Blast Magazine) is reporting that Asante Samuel will sign with the Eagles. He is in for an official visit today. If this is true (and I’m still skeptical), how I feel about the situation will depend entirely on how much money he’s getting. If it’s the $30 million guaranteed he’s looking for, I won’t understand it.

If the Eagles do in fact announce the deal, they have three options as I see it with Lito:

  • Try and find a good return in trade, even though they now have less leverage.
  • Move Brown to safety and keep Sheppard/Samuel as the corners
  • Keep all three around for the best nickel package in the NFL and injury insurance.

Keep in mind the Eagles safeties don’t always fit into the traditional FS/SS mold. They move around a lot, especially in passing situations, and with the versatility of Brown and Dawkins back there it could really be interesting.  You have to be smart and tackle exceptionally well as a safety in Jim Johnson’s schemes, and Brown fits that mold perfectly (Sean Considine, see you never).  We’ll see.

Secondly, the Cowboys managed to work out a deal with Flozell Adams. This is disappointing. I was looking forward to the team getting worse, and this goes a long to towards keeping that from happening. Dammit.

Free Agency Midnight Madness

Since thinking about the San Francisco Giants gives me a migraine, I’m going to continue to focus on the Eagles even though they don’t play a meaningful game for another seven months. OK? OK.

We’ll finally get some action to supplant all the speculation of the last month as free agency begins tonight. Don’t be surprised if one or two players sign in the first couple of hours — somehow hashing out a deal with their new team in such a brief period (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

As to the Eagles, I doubt you’ll see much from them in the first couple of days. They like to let the landscape unfold before they start writing checks.

(P.S. — This morning Buster Olney declared the Giants as his candidate for worst team in the majors — despite having a “top 10 pitching staff”. That’s how awful this lineup is.)

Cardinals, Fitzgerald Not Close

That’s the latest from Kent Somers. Here’s a few choice quotes to chew on.

From Larry’s agent, Eugene Parker:

“We’re looking for something that works for both parties, but we were told that he (Fitzgerald) was going to be a Cardinal this year no matter what and he’s fine with that,” Parker said Friday. “We’re trying to find something that can work for both of us. We expect him to be a Cardinal one way or the other.”

Very diplomatic.

Parker wouldn’t talk about contract details but did acknowledge that he is seeking more than the $27.2 million in guarantees that Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, the second pick in last year’s draft, received in his six-year deal.

“Larry is a unique guy, a proven commodity now,” Parker said. “He’s not a draft guy that you hope can make it. He’s already proven what he can do, so Calvin Johnson is not going to set our standards.”

Ahh, there’s something a little more confrontational. That means Parker is looking for $30+ million guaranteed. That’s a lot of freaking money, especially when you have another receiver who might be as talented and young on the other side who you won’t have to pay for a year or two.

The Cardinals have dealt with Parker several times over the years, and he and Graves have a good relationship. But Parker has a history of using time as an advantage, if he thinks it can create more leverage. He doesn’t seem eager to consummate a deal right away, although that could change quickly.

“Obviously, his contract is what it is,” Parker said. “If he (Fitzgerald) has to play for it, he’ll play for it. We’re just trying to see if we can get there on a multiyear deal.”

The dreaded “it is what it is” comment.

Time is definitely on Fitzgerald’s side.

NFL Power Shift?

The NFL Free Agent pool is loaded with some pretty big names with careers that back up their reputations — guys like Randy Moss, Alan Faneca, Asante Samuel. On top of that, there could be other big names available in trade — Julius Peppers, Javon Walker, Chad Johnson, etc.

The Patriots, obviously, have a lot to lose here. Losing Moss will bring their offense back to earth. Losing Samuel takes their biggest playmaker away. If they lose Stallworth as well they are suddenly down to Wes Welker and Jabar Gaffney at wide receiver.

Alan Faneca was a vital player for the Steelers. A Pro-Bowler who is also a leader.

It remains to be seen what happens to these guys, but two powerful teams in the AFC will almost certainly be weaker going into 2008. It stands to reason, then, that their could be a shift in the conventional wisdom that the AFC is the dominant conference — especially if these guys move to NFC Clubs.

Imagine a team like the Lions signing Faneca to patch up that terrible O-Line. Suddenly Jon Kitna isn’t running for his life quite so much.

Or Dallas — please, no — signing Randy Moss. John Czarnecki says it could happen.

With so much talent with a chance to move, the NFC could finally shed its reputation of the weaker conference.