A poor workout on March 26, followed three
days later by his involvement in a fight in which Suggs could face charges, has
called his lofty status into question.
"I really don't think it will
hurt me in the draft, but if I drop (to No. 6)) what better than playing in the
state that you played your college career?" Suggs said. "I also played high
school ball here. I love Arizona. I don't really want to leave. I think I can
fit perfectly in the Cardinals' scheme."
While Houston and Chicago have
cooled on the 260-pound pass rusher, who set an NCAA record with 24 sacks last
season, it is believed that the Cardinals would take him if he falls.
And Suggs could drop like a rock. First, there was his horrific
performance on March 26 for 31 of the 32 NFL teams -- only Washington was
missing. His 40-yard dash times were around 4.8 seconds and he bench pressed 225
pounds only 19 times. He seemed slow and confused in some drills.
agent, Gary Wichard, had set up the workout to coincide with the NFL annual
meetings in Phoenix to assure a huge audience in which to showcase his client.
Then three days later, Suggs was involved in an incident in which he
suffered a cut when hit on the back of the head with a metal rod and another man
suffered a broken nose. Suggs claims he was trying to be a peacemaker in a
dispute involving a cousin and the man whose nose was broken. Then man with the
broken nose claims Suggs initiated the fight.
Suggs met with the media
at the Cardinals facility on Monday following his previously scheduled visit
with the team. He claimed he would cooperate with Phoenix police. But his
meeting time with Phoenix detectives passed on Wednesday. No Suggs. He sent two
attorneys in his place.
The Houston Texans, who have the third pick
overall, were the highest team likely to draft Suggs. They all but took
themselves out of the market on Wednesday when they signed veteran outside
linebacker Charlie Clemons, 30, to a four-year contract worth just under $7
Suggs would have had to convert to outside linebacker in the
Texans' 3-4 scheme. It would have been a reach to invest so heavily in a player
who suddenly has question marks regarding his athleticism and character.
It appears the Texans instead will draft Miami receiver Andre Johnson,
who should be a fine target for second-year quarterback David Carr.
Chicago, which picks fourth, initially had interest in Suggs, as well,
but general manager Jerry Angelo came away from the workouts disappointed,
stopping just short of labeling Suggs a laggard.
The Bears likely will
draft quarterback Kyle Boller of California instead.
The mystery pick is
Dallas at No. 5, just ahead of the Cardinals. The Cowboys seem infatuated with
Kansas State cornerback Terrence Newman, a player the Cardinals would like to
have, as well. Dallas also has the need for a pass rusher like Suggs.
the stage is set for Suggs to fall to his hometown pro team.
the Cardinals vice president of operations, said following Suggs' visit Monday
that he would have no qualms regarding Suggs if that happens.
it starts with what a player is able to accomplish on the field," Graves said.
"We know that Terrell Suggs is a great football player, a good person, and we
will be largely looking at that. We'll wait and continue to monitor the
situation to see if there's reason for red flags. In our opinion, he had a great
Suggs plans to have another workout for pro scouts in mid April
in hopes of redeeming himself.
"There is a difference between track
speed and football speed -- I'm not a track guy but I am a football player,"
Suggs said. "I can do a lot better. A lot of (scouts and coaches) told me they
really didn't care what I ran. They know I can play football. They can look at
film and see I'm quick off the ball. I just had a bad day on one of my important
"I know I can run a 4.6 even being 260 pounds. I guess people want
to see it on paper. All they want to know is, 'What's your 40 time?' That's the
big thing, just to prove I can run a 4.6 at 260."
Suggs said he is
confident any character questions will be answered in his favor during the legal
"Anybody who knows me knows it's not like I've got a history of
stuff like that," Suggs said. "They know that I can play football and know I'm
not a troublemaker."
--Although FS Dexter Jackson was Super Bowl Most Valuable Player
for two interceptions in a win over Oakland, in any discussion of Tampa Bay's
defense the names of Derrick Brooks, Simeon Rice and Warren Sapp come up before
In fact, punch Jackson's name into an Internet search engine
and he still isn't the first name to come up. Body builder Dexter Jackson, a
former Mr. Olympia, is.
"I've never met him, but I'm supposed to when I
get back," said Jackson, who signed with the Cardinals. "He's in Jacksonville
(Fla.), like an hour away from my home town."
--By July, the tackling
and pass intercepting Dexter Jackson will be a long way from his hometown of
Quincy, Fla., and memories will be faded of trying futilely to receive a
contract commensurate with contribution to the Buccaneers.
"The last two
years I was near the top, third and fourth in tackles and second in
interceptions both years," Jackson said. "Stats don't lie. Some people go by
names, I go by productivity."
Jackson (6-1, 203), 25, who had more
tackles than Sapp or Rice, will team with strong safety Adrian Wilson (6-3,
217), 23, to give the Cardinals a rangy, young and athletic safety tandem.
"That's one of the main reasons I'm coming here," Jackson said.
"Arizona's safeties get involved."
--The Cardinals appear to be in a
two-way race with Kansas City for free-agent DE Vonnie Holliday. Seattle and
Philadelphia have cooled. The Cardinals offered $25 million over six years.
--RB Emmitt Smith's two-year contract officially is worth $7.5 million,
including a $2.5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $2.5 million. That
makes the NFL career rushing leader the ninth-highest paid running back in the
league for 2003.
--It didn't take long for the Cardinals to capitalize
on Smith. His smiling face appeared in newspaper ads over the weekend pumping
season tickets. The Cardinals would not divulge numbers but characterized
business as "brisk" since Smith signed.
--C Mike Gruttadauria, the
starter for three years when he wasn't injured, was released. Neck, knee and
back injuries caused Gruttadauria to miss 17 games over three seasons. He missed
the final eight games in 2002. Gruttadauria signed a four-year, $8.6 million
contract with the Cardinals in 2000, just weeks after starting for St. Louis in
Super Bowl XXXIV.
--C Frank Garcia, recently signed from St.
Louis, will compete with Jason Starkey and Steven Grace for Gruttadauria's job.
Starkey has been a fill-in starter. Grace made the team as an undrafted rookie
--Five role players have re-signed: S Justin Lucas, LB Trev
Faulk, WR Nathan Poole, G Teag Whiting and G Tony Wragge. Each signed for one
Lucas is the most significant. He has been a key contributor in
nickel packages and on special teams. He started four games last season and
scored the Cardinals' only two defensive touchdowns, a 38-yard interception
return and a 35-yard return of a lateral.
--OG/T Cameron Spikes became
the seventh unrestricted free agent to join the Cardinals this offseason,
signing for three years. He likely would have been a starter if he had re-signed
with Houston. He is likely to be a backup for the Cardinals.
NOTE: "That's people's opinions. I never said that. People make assumptions. My
thing was if the right opportunity came at the right time, that's the thing I
was taking. Arizona was the right opportunity, at the right time, and I'm a
Cardinal." -- FS Dexter Jackson, the Super Bowl MVP with Tampa Bay, on coming to
the Cardinals after he appeared to be on the verge of signing with the Steelers.
The Cardinals will draft sixth in the first round and will be looking for a pass
rusher, receiver and perhaps a quarterback.
They had the fewest sacks in
the NFL the past two years, and likely will begin to address that in free
agency. DEs Kyle Vanden Bosch and Fred Wakefield are steady against the run but
aren't threats to make sacks.
The team's top three WRs are unrestricted
free agents. While there are a number of competent young players on the roster
ready to move up, a speedy, game-turner would draw interest.
may sign a veteran quarterback but really needs to add two who can play. They
had no experienced veteran behind Jake Plummer, who could be gone in free
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Thomas Burke (injuries prevented him from
being the pass rusher he was in college, won't be offered new contract); OT John
Fina (valuable veteran backup who can be plugged in anywhere but center); OLB
Rob Fredrickson (aging and injured, but still valuable); FS Kwamie Lassiter (on
the downward arc of his career, was often a step behind the play); FB Joel
Makovicka (hard to imagine he hung on this long, average blocker, average
receiver, seldom given the ball); MLB Johnny Rutledge (marginal athlete for a
former second-round pick, better suited to play inside than out, where the Cards
tried to force him to play); WR Frank Sanders (could be back if he will work
cheap, aging but still good possession receiver over the middle).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR/PR Arnold Jackson
(not tendered as ERFA); RB Anthony White (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB David Barrett (tendered at $1.318 million
with 1st-round pick as compensation; returning starter who is physical at the
line and has decent enough speed to run with wideouts).
FREE AGENTS: LS Nathan Hodel (tendered at $300,000; starter, high priority).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: RB Damien Anderson (potential ERFA; $300,000/1yr); DT
Russell Davis (UFA; $3.2M/3 yrs, $800,000 SB; 2003 cap: $1.067M); PK Tim Duncan
(potential ERFA; $225,000/1yr); DT Nate Dwyer (ERFA; $225,000/1 yr); S Nijrell
Eason (ERFA; $225,000/1 yr); LB Trev Faulk (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); WR Bryan
Gilmore (potential ERFA; $375,000/1yr); C Steven Grace (potential ERFA;
$300,000/1 yr); S Quentin Harris (potential ERFA; $300,000/1yr); LB Greg Jones
(UFA; terms unknown); S Justin Lucas (RFA; $605,0001/ yr); FB Dennis McKinley
(UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown); WR Nathan Poole (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); RB Travis
Prentice (ERFA; $450,000/1 yr); CB Coby Rhinehart (UFA; terms unknown); OT
Kendrick Rogers (potential ERFA; $225,000/1yr); OL Raleigh Roundtree (UFA; terms
unknown); WR Jake Soliday (potential ERFA; $300,000/1yr); C Jason Starkey (RFA;
$605,000/1 yr); DT Barron Tanner (UFA; $2.775M/3 yrs, $750,000 SB; 2003 cap:
$925,000); OG Teag Whiting (ERFA; $225,000/1 yr); LB LeVar Woods (ERFA;
$375,000/1 yr); OG Tony Wragge (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); MLB Michael Young
(potential ERFA; $300,000/1 yr).
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: QB Jeff Blake (UFA
Ravens; $7.5M/3 yrs, $1.5M SB; 2003 cap: $2.5M); LB James Darling (UFA Jets;
$4.1M/4 yrs, SB unknown); FB James Hodgins (FA Rams; $5M/4 yrs, $1M SB; 2003
cap: $1.150M); S Dexter Jackson (UFA Buccaneers; $14M/5 yrs, $2.75M SB); RB
Emmitt Smith (FA Cowboys; $7.5M/2 yrs, $2.5M SB; 2003 carp: $3.75M); OG Cameron
Spikes (UFA Texans; 2 yrs, terms unknown).
PLAYERS LOST: WR David Boston
(UFA Chargers; $47.4M/7 yrs, $4M SB/$3M option SB '04/$3.9M base guarantee '04);
C Mike Gruttadauria (cut); WR MarTay Jenkins (UFA Falcons; 1 yr, terms unknown);
QB Jake Plummer (UFA Broncos; $40.7M/7 yrs, $7M SB/$6M option SB '05)
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.