There’s no question Jonathan Gannon is approaching his foray into being a head coach with confidence.
Confidence in himself and confident in the staff he has put together, despite its youth and glaring lack of NFL experience. Still, it’s a staff where Gannon is allowing them to do the jobs they were hired for while he is the leader of the entire team and not devoting large hours of his time to only the defense, the side of the ball where his reputation was developed.
When asked how important it is to be perceived as the coach of the team and not viewed as being tied to only defense, Gannon stated firmly, “Huge.”
He continued, “Obviously, you work for a lot of different people and you see people do it a lot of different ways, but everything that goes on on that field is my responsibility. So I’m going to have some knowledge what’s going on on that field.”
Noting that he’s been present in offensive and special-teams meetings in addition to the defense, Gannon said, “I want to know what’s being taught, how we’re teaching it, what are the ways we’re teaching it, what’s going on on that practice field.
“If we’re doing drills, why are we doing certain drills? Are they scheme related or are they game specific or are we exercising? I think I’ve laid out a really clear vision to our position coaches: This is my expectation and we have to make sure we think outside the box a little bit and ultimately get it right for the players. And that’s my No. 1 job.”
Gannon also exudes confidence after two weeks of the league year with what he believes has been accomplished. When he spoke to reporters Tuesday (March 28), the team had signed 17 players, nine of whom were with the Cardinals in 2022. By the end of the week, two more newcomers (cornerback Rashad Fenton and defensive lineman Carlos Watkins) had been added to the roster.
All were signed to 1- or 2-year contracts and of the seven 2-year deals, none averaged more than $5 million per season.
“You don’t win games in free agency,” Gannon said, in reference to the large deals often handed out in the first few days.
Asked his thoughts on the additions, Gannon said, “Excited. Excited. I feel like we added some really good pieces. Some guys that will come in and create some competition to some of those position groups. The other thing I like that (general manager) Monti (Ossenfort) and I were in lockstep about is that some of those guys have major versatility.
“That’s good when you’re adding pieces and guys can play multiple positions. That helps in the draft where you’re not stuck where, ‘Well, we need a guard. Well, this guy can play guard or whatever the case may be.’ I’m excited to be getting to work with those guys, seeing what the best spots for those guys are as it fits in where we start adding some pieces in the draft and (more in) free agency.”
The 19 players include nine that were on the team in 2022. Those nine are at eight different positions with only the offensive line (Kelvin Beachum and Will Hernandez) having two. There have been five offensive players re-signed, three on defense and one on special teams (kicker Matt Prater).
However, the 10 newcomers are in five position groups with three defensive linemen and linebackers, two cornerbacks and offensive linemen and one wide receiver. For those counting, that’s eight defensive players.
The current 64-player roster includes 12 linebackers and when asked about that specifically, Gannon said, “We’re always looking to create competition with each group. But I think you guys are starting to see how we are going to align some of our guys; those guys will all fit in together nicely. The guys that we have here already, they’ve got a pretty unique skill set. So we’re just going to look, keep adding versatile pieces with guys that can line up in different spots and play different positions.
“You need that for flexibility within scheme because we play a lot of different personnel groups. You’ll often hear me say, ‘You need a pair and a spare.’ Guys are going to get hurt at some point. You don’t want to be out of a whole position because somebody got hurt or a couple guys get nicked. You want guys to kind of be able to plug and play. So we love versatile players that can play multiple positions, they can think differently and do some different things.”
Some of the competition will come because those on 1-year contracts will likely be free agents again in March, 2024, hoping to make more money than they will this year if they make the roster.
The Cardinals have surely not thrown dollars around. Of the 19 players signed, contract details are known for 15. The total value of those deals is $54.03 million (average $3.6 million) with $24.865 million guaranteed ($1.66 million average) and $14.261 million in signing bonuses ($951,000 average).
The total cap charge for 2023 is $26.012 million. However, the net cap gain has been only about $14.462 million because each player signed pushes a player out of the top 51 that count against the cap in the offseason. Many of the players that dropped out counted $750,000 against the cap, but now it’s $870,000. So a new player that counts $1 million would be a net gain of only $130,000.
Following is a look at the signings (including players that have departed) along with the known contracts. Below that is a position-by-position look at the current roster.
LB Krys Barnes: 1 year, terms unknown.
DE L.J. Collier: 1 year, $1,232,500 that includes $76,250 signing bonus. Considered a qualifying contract, the cap charge is $1,016,250.
G/T Dennis Daley: 2 years, $3.2 million, $750,000 guaranteed including $350,000 signing bonus. Salaries of $1.25 million in 2023 with $400,000 guaranteed and $1.425 million in 2024. Cap charge is $1.425 million this year, $1.775 million in 2024.
CB Rashad Fenton: 1 year, terms unknown.
C/G Hjalte Froholdt: 2 years, $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.
WR Zach Pascal: 2 years, $4.5 million with $1.5 million guaranteed as signing bonus. Salaries are $1.08 million in 2023 and $1.92 million 2024. Cap charge for 2023 is $1.83 million.
DL Kevin Strong: 1 year, $1,156,250 with $152,500 guaranteed, which is for $76,250 signing bonus and $76,250 of $1.08 million salary. Considered a qualifying contract, the cap charge is $1,016,250.
DL Carlos Watkins: 1 year, terms unknown.
LB Kyzir White: 2 years, $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.
LB Josh Woods: 1 year, terms unknown
T Kelvin Beachum: 2 years, $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.
QB David Blough: 1 year, $1,232,500, $76,350 signing bonus, $76,250 non-guaranteed roster bonus. His base salary is $1.08 million and cap charge is $1,232,500.
RB Corey Clement: 1 year, $1.08 million salary with no guarantees. As a qualifying contract, he counts $940,000 against the cap.
WR Greg Dortch: 1 year, $1.01 million (ERFA tender).
CB Antonio Hamilton Sr.: 1 year, $1.5 million guaranteed. His signing bonus is $335,000 with a guaranteed salary of $1.165 million guaranteed. The 2023 cap is $1.5 million.
G Will Hernandez: 2 years, $9 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed including $2.5 million signing bonus. Salaries are $2 million guaranteed in 2023 and $3.15 million in 2024M. He can earn up to $425,000 ($25,000 per-game) in per-game roster bonuses. The cap charges is $3.575 million in 2023.
DL Jonathan Ledbetter: 1 year, $870,000 (ERFA tender)
K Matt Prater: 2 years, $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.
LB Ezekiel Turner: 1 year, $2 million with $652,500 guaranteed including a $152,500 signing bonus. The 2023 salary is $1,847,500 of which $500,000 is guaranteed. The cap charge is $1,232,500.
Signed with other teams
DE Zack Allen (Broncos): 3 years, $45.75 million with $32.5 million fully guaranteed. He received a $15 million signing bonus. Salaries are $2.25 million in 2023 (guaranteed), $15.25 million guaranteed in 2024 and $12.74 million in 2024. He can earn $510,000 in per-game roster bonuses in 2025 ($30,000 per game). With one void year, the signing bonus is prorated over four years at $3.75 million each year. His 2023 cap charge is $6 million this year, $19 million in 2024 and $17 million in 2025.
DL Michael Dogbe (Jaguars): 1 year, $1.08 million with no guaranteed money.
G/T Cody Ford (Bengals); 1 year, $1.08 million with no guarantees. As a qualifying contract, it counts $940,000 against the cap.
DL Trysten Hill (Browns): 1 year, $1,232,500 that includes $76,250 in per-game roster. His salary is $1.08 million of which $300,000 is guaranteed. As a qualifying contract, the contract counts $1,055,618 against the cap.
CB Byron Murphy Jr. (Vikings): 2 years, $17.5 million with $8.1 million fully guaranteed at signing and another $4.5 million guaranteed for injury only that becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the third day of the 2024 league year. The $8.1 guaranteed includes a $7 million signing bonus and $1.1 base-salary guarantee this year. His 2024 base salary is $8.3 million with nothing guaranteed. His cap charge is $4.9 million this year and $12.35 million in 2024. However, if he’s released prior to the third day of the 2024 league year, the dead money against the cap in 2024 would be only $3.5 million. There are more than $4 million in incentives available both years based on playing time, Pro Bowl and All-Pro.
Under contract (3): David Blough (re-signed non-tendered RFA), Colt McCoy, Kyler Murray (IR)
UFA: Trace McSorley
Under contract (4): Corey Clement (UFA re-signed), James Conner, Keaontay Ingram, Ty’Son Williams
UFA: Darrel Williams (IR)
Under contract (8): Andre Baccellia, Marquise Brown, Greg Dortch (ERFA re-signed), DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore (IR), Zach Pascal (UFA Eagles), Auden Tate, Javon Wims
UFA: Pharoh Cooper
Non-tendered RFA: Antoine Wesley (IR)
Released: Chosen Anderson
Retired: A.J. Green
Under contract (5): Zach Ertz (IR), Trey McBride, Chris Pierce Jr., Bernhard Seikovits, Noah Togiai
UFA: Stephen Anderson, Maxx Williams
Under contract (12): T Kelvin Beachum (UFA re-signed), G/T Dennis Daley (UFA Titans), T Julien Davenport, C/G Hjalte Froholdt (UFA Browns), G Marquis Hayes (IR), G Will Hernandez (UFA re-signed), G Hayden Howerton (claimed on waivers Patriots), T D.J. Humphries (IR), T Josh Jones, T/G Lachavious Simmons, C/G Lecitus Smith, T 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 (failed physical; post-June 1 designation)
Under contract (8): Eric Banks, L.J. Collier (UFA Seahawks), Leki Fotu, Manny Jones, Rashard Lawrence (IR), Jonathan Ledbetter (IR; ERFA re-signed), Kevin Strong (UFA Titans), Carlos Watkins (UFA Cowboys)
Left as UFA: Zach Allen (Broncos), Michael Dogbe (UFA Jaguars), Trysten Hill (IR; UFA Browns)
Retired: J.J. Watt (released as post-June 1 designation)
Under contract (12): Krys Barnes (not tendered as RFA Packers), Zaven Collins, Victor Dimukeje, Dennis Gardeck, Jesse Luketa, Blake Lynch, Myjai Sanders, Isaiah Simmons, Cameron Thomas, Ezekiel Turner (UFA re-signed), Kyzir White (UFA Eagles), Josh Woods (UFA Lions)
UFA: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Ben Niemann, Tanner Vallejo, Nick Vigil (IR)
Released: Markus Golden
Under contract (9): S Budda Baker (IR), CB Rashad Fenton (UFA Chiefs), CB Nate Hairston, CB Antonio Hamilton Sr. (UFA re-signed), S JuJu Hughes, CB Christian Matthew, S Josh Thomas, S Jalen Thompson, CB Marco Wilson
UFA: CB Josh Jackson, S Charles Washington
Non-tendered ERFA: CB Jace Whittaker
Left as UFA: CB Byron Murphy Jr. (IR; Vikings)
Retired: S Chris Banjo (assistant coach with Broncos)
Under contract (4): P Nolan Cooney, LS Joe Fortunato, K Elliott Fry, K Matt Prater (UFA re-signed)
UFA: LS Aaron Brewer (IR), P Andy Lee
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