The first three days of this year’s free-agent period surely hasn’t been a frenzy for the Cardinals at least when it comes to money out the door.

They have added three outside free agents (linebacker Kyzir White, interior lineman Hjalte Froholdt and defensive lineman Kevin Strong), while re-signing five of their own unrestricted free agents (tackle Kelvin Beachum, guard Will Hernandez, kicker Matt Prater, linebacker Ezekiel Turner and running back Corey Clement).

The Cardinals also signed wide receiver Greg Dortch to his $1.01 million exclusive-rights tender and also tendered exclusive-rights defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter at $870,000. I won’t refer to those players as exclusive-rights “free agents” because they are prohibited from negotiating with other teams.

The team’s Dollar-Store (or should we instead call it Walmart or Costco?) “spree” so far has resulted in five two-year contracts and three for one year.

Details haven’t been obtained yet for Hernandez (although it has been reported as a two-year $9 million contract), Clement, Turner and Strong), but the four known are all for two years and total $27.25 million with $15.37 million guaranteed (including $9.195 million in signing bonuses) and a combined salary-cap charge of $10.365 million this year.

Adding Dortch and Ledbetter, whose tender counts against the cap even though he hasn’t signed it yet, brings the total value to $29.13 million and the cap to $11.245 million.

Here are the contract specifics for the four players:

White: $10 million, $6 million guaranteed including a $3.5 million signing bonus. His salaries are $1.5 million guaranteed in 2023 and $5 million with $1 million guaranteed in 2024. The 2023 cap charge is $3.25 million and $6.75 million in 2024.

Prater: $7.5 million, $4 million guaranteed including a $2.5 million signing bonus with salaries of $1.5 million guaranteed in 2023 and $3.5 million in 2024. The 2023 cap charge is $2.75 million and $4.75 million in 2024. It’s notable that Prater’s previous two-year deal was worth $6.5 million with $2.925 million ($1.85 million signing bonus) guaranteed and his cap charge in 2022 was $4.5 million.

Beachum: $5.15 million, $3.26 million guaranteed including a $2.095 million signing bonus with salaries of $1.165 million guaranteed in 2023 and $1.210 million in 2024. He can also earn $340,000 in per-game roster bonuses each year ($20,000 per game). The cap charge is $2.55 million this year and $2.6 million in 2024. Strangely, his deal isn’t worth much more than Froholdt.

Froholdt: $4.6 million, $2.11 million guaranteed including a $1.1 million signing bonus with salaries of $1.01 million guaranteed in 2023 and $1.98 million in 2024. He can earn up to $255,000 in per-game roster bonuses each year ($15,000 per game). The cap charges are $1.815 million in 2023 and $2.785 million in 2024.

Watt and Hudson released

Shortly after the start of the league year Wednesday at 1 pm Arizona time, the Cardinals terminated the contracts of defensive end J.J. Watt and center Rodney Hudson. That reduces the roster to 56 players with 34 more needed to reach the offseason limit of 90.

Watt and Hudson were each designated as post-June 1 terminations, which means the Cardinals have to carry their cap charges through June 1. After that date, the base salaries disappear and the remaining signing bonus prorations in their contracts can be split between 2023 and 2024.

In Hudson’s case, by being released prior to March 19, a $1 million roster bonus also is eliminated from his cap figure. He was also terminated with a failed physical designation, an important note for those that continue to believe he wasn’t actually injured last season.

Until June 1, Hudson will count $3.81 million against the cap. After that date, it will be $1.76 million this year and $3.52 million in 2024. Watt currently counts $3.565 million against the cap until June 2 when it will be $2.4 million with $4.8 million in 2024.

Hopkins waits

Meanwhile, the league year opened with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins still on the roster and having a cap charge of a shade under $30 million. The trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Rams to Miami for a third-round pick (77th overall) this year and tight end Hunter Long surely makes it a longshot that the Cardinals can do better if they find a true taker for the 31-year-old-in-June Hopkins, who is more than two years older than Ramsey.

Notable departures

Also since Monday, two stalwart defenders left the Cardinals for other teams: defensive end Zach Allen and cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. While Allen’s reported deal was everything advertised, Murphy’s was not.

Allen signed a three-year contract with the Broncos worth $45.75 million that includes $32.5 million guaranteed at signing. That includes a $15 million signing bonus plus base-salary guarantees of $2.25 million this year and $15.25 million in 2024. Reunited with defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, his cap charges are $7.25 million this year and a whopping $20.25 million in 2024 along with $18.25 million in 2025.

As for Murphy, the agent spreading the original news of his signing with the Vikings included more than $4 million of incentives that include playing time, Pro Bowl and All-Pro. Reported as worth $22 million over two years, the actual base value of the contract is $17.5 million.

The guaranteed money was also agent-inflated. Reported as $12.6 million, it is $8.1 million fully guaranteed at signing with $4.5 million that can become guaranteed if he is on the roster on the third day of the 2024 league year. His signing bonus is $7 million and the base salaries are $1.1 million guaranteed this year and $8.3 million with nothing guaranteed in 2024.

The cap charge is $4.9 million in 2023 and $12.35 million in 2024. The deal is essentially a one-year, $8.1 million contract. If he’s released prior to the third day of the 2024 league year his dead money against the cap in 2024 would be only $3.5 million.

Murphy’s departure leaves the Cardinals with Marco Wilson and Christian Matthew as the only cornerbacks currently under contact.

The only signed defensive linemen are Leki Fotu, Rashard Lawrence, Eric Banks and Manny Jones with Ledbetter expected to sign his exclusive-rights tender.

Following is a current look at the Cardinals roster along with those that are free agents roster moves. It will be updated throughout the offseason.


Signed: Kyler Murray (IR), Colt McCoy

UFA: Trace McSorley

Non-tendered RFA: David Blough


Signed: James Conner, Corey Clement, Keaontay Ingram, Ty’Son Williams

UFA: Darrel Williams (IR)


Signed: Andre Baccellia, Marquise Brown, Greg Dortch, DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore (IR)

UFA: Pharoh Cooper

Postseason signings: Auden Tate, Javon Wims

Non-tendered RFA: Antoine Wesley (IR)

Released: Chosen Anderson

Retired: A.J. Green


Signed: Zach Ertz (IR), Trey McBride

UFA: Stephen Anderson, Maxx Williams

Postseason signings: Chris Pierce Jr., Bernhard Seikovits, Noah Togiai


Signed: T Kelvin Beachum, G Marquis Hayes (IR), G Will Hernandez, T D.J. Humphries (IR), T Josh Jones, C/G Lecitus Smith

Postseason signings: T Julien Davenport, C/G Hjalte Froholdt (UFA Browns), G Hayden Howerton (claimed on waivers Patriots), Lachavious Simmons, Badara Traore

UFA: T/G Rashaad Coward, C/G Max Garcia, C/G Sean Harlow, T Josh Miles (IR), C Billy Price, G Justin Pugh (IR)

Left as UFA: G/T Cody Ford (Bengals)

Released: C Rodney Hudson (IR)


Signed: Eric Banks, Leki Fotu, Manny Jones, Rashard Lawrence (IR)

Tendered ERFA: Jonathan Ledbetter (IR)

Postseason signing: Kevin Strong (UFA Titans)

UFA: Michael Dogbe

Left as UFA: Zach Allen (Broncos), Trsyten Hill (IR; Browns)

Retired: J.J. Watt


Signed: Zaven Collins, Victor Dimukeje, Dennis Gardeck, Jesse Luketa, Myjai Sanders, Isaiah Simmons, Cameron Thomas, Ezekiel Turner

UFA: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Ben Niemann, Tanner Vallejo, Nick Vigil (IR)

Postseason signings: Blake Lynch, Kyzir White (Eagles)

Released: Markus Golden


Signed: S Budda Baker (IR), CB Christian Matthew, S Jalen Thompson, CB Marco Wilson

UFA: CB Antonio Hamilton, CB Josh Jackson, S Charles Washington

Non-tendered ERFA: CB Jace Whittaker

Left as UFA: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (IR)

Retired: S Chris Banjo (assistant coach with Broncos)

Postseason signings: CB Nate Hairston, S JuJu Hughes, S Josh Thomas


Signed: K Matt Prater

UFA: LS Aaron Brewer (IR), P Andy Lee

Postseason signings: P Nolan Cooney, LS Joe Fortunato, K Elliott Fry

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions on Twitter @hbalzer721 or email me:


Howard Balzer is in his 47th year covering professional football as a writer, editor and broadcaster and has covered 41 Super Bowls. His connection with pro football began in 1976 with College and Pro Football Newsweekly, and since then he has been a featured columnist for The Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, USA Today Sports Weekly and The Sports Xchange. Balzer moved to St. Louis in 1978 to work for The Sporting News, where he became Pro Football Editor in 1979. He was an analyst on ESPN's initial broadcast of the NFL Draft in 1980 and continued in that role through 1988. He has won seven writing awards in the Professional Football Writers of America competition, won an Emmy for commentaries on KPLR-TV in St. Louis in 1986 and was nominated for an Emmy in 1988 and 1990. He was named the 2016 winner of the Bob Broeg Media Award presented by the St. Louis/Tom Lombardo Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The award is for enthusiasm, integrity, professionalism and devotion to the game of football and is reserved for individuals whose contributions to football in the St. Louis area have made a significant difference. Balzer was an officer (secretary and secretary/treasurer) for the Professional Football Writers of America for 33 years and was inducted into the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. Balzer relocated to the Phoenix area in 2020 as the publisher of the FanNation AllCardinals site and is now the Cardinals reporter for PHNX. He is entering his 19th year as one of 49 voting members on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is also on the Hall's Seniors Committee. He is the co-host of the weekly Pro Football Hall of Fame radio show on SiriusXM NFL Radio and is a part-time host at ArizonaSports 98.7 FM.

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