Not the case this year. This year, he's coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he intercepted 10 passes for the New York Jets.
Through the first two months of free agency, Ty Law fell back on the standard line that he was "looking for the right opportunity." As it turns out, he was actually more like Cousin Eddie from the National Lampoon Vacation series in that he was "holding out for a management position." And, that brings us back to the classic rule of NFL negotiations when talking about highly talented players: When someone tells you it's not about the money, it's about the money.
Which brings us to the present day. Law has no injury to overcome and he was able to easily step into the Jets' line-up last season and put up Pro Bowl numbers. Some might say he's too old, but a lot of people said that last year. He's looking for one last, big pay day.
The primary suitors in the Ty Law Sweepstakes are the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots (the team that drafted Law), and… your Arizona Cardinals. Now, I'll expound in further detail in a later article about how much help Arizona needs in the secondary. For the purposes of this article, let's just say they could use the help.
The Chiefs, considered to be the frontrunners to land Law (they also were considered the frontrunners about this time last year, by the way) have exhibited no hesitance to pony up the eight figures worth of guaranteed money that Law is seeking in the past for top-tier defensive talent. It is for this reason that I believe the Chiefs are resistant to pulling the trigger on Law because they've been burned before with high profile free agents. They signed Kendrell Bell who is still with the team and others who are no longer with the team to big contracts and traded for Patrick Surtain. And their defense is still lousy. Why would Law help them? They have the cap room ($7.3 million) and the need, but I keep thinking that there's a "fool me once" attitude about the front office.
The Patriots have done just fine without Law for the past 1 ½ seasons and aren't the type of team to throw around guaranteed money like it's pocket change, even though they have more cap space than the Chiefs ($16.9 million). Plus which, I get the feeling that Bill Belichick relishes the fact that he's still able to field a successful team without his shutdown corner and instead employing a bunch of guys with tragic last names and cornrows.
Which brings us to the Cardinals. They have the need. They have an abundance of cap room ($28.9 million, which is more than the Patriots and Chiefs put together, with enough left over to buy a lifetime's supply of pudding. For Ghana.) And, though they are a historically tight-wad cabal of good ol' boys, the Cardinals have shown a penchant for spending in free agency with the acquisitions of Bertrand Berry, Chike Okaefor, and some guy that played running back for the Colts that's pretty good. So where's the problem? Why haven't they signed a Pro Bowl player and future Hall of Famer with three Super Bowl rings to a contract? Whose fault is it?
Well, the answer isn't pretty. It's your fault. I have a sneaking suspicion that as soon as there was a waiting list for season tickets, the Bidwells told the front office to take some time for themselves until September, because they wouldn't be needed. That's the only explanation that I can accept. The Bidwells put a freeze on spending and decided that they had done enough for this off-season by producing a marketable team, not one that could contend for the playoffs.
He's too old? Sure, there's a long and distinguished list of bad free agent signings of old players. But, there's also Reggie White, Deion Sanders, and Jerry Rice. Law seems to be in that ageless category judging by his performance last year. If he's too old, how did Darrell Green play until he was old enough to collect Social Security? If he's too old, how did he pick ten passes last year?
The Cardinals are in their third season under Dennis Green. Everyone knows they can throw the ball, but if you listen to idiot sports writers like me, Edgerrin James will not only vastly improve the running game, but save money in concessions with his ability to magically create loaves and fishes when necessary. Everyone has had time in the system on offense and defense and they should only get better. The only thing they're missing from last year's top 10 defense is veteran leadership. And no, Robert Griffith doesn't count even though he witnessed the Golden Spike being driven into the Transcontinental Railroad.
Even if they frontload a ridiculous amount of money into the contract offer they make (which Ty would probably prefer), they'll still be $20 million under the cap. They'll have Law to solidify the secondary and teach Antrelle Rolle the finer points of zone and man-to-man coverages. And the Bidwells can prove, once and for all, that they're serious about building a winning and competitive organization in the Valley of the Sun.
Sounds like a good plan, right? Let's just hope that there's somewhere there to answer the phone when Law's agent calls.