Darnell Dockett (Getty)
Receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett attended last weekend's minicamp. But that's about all they did. They both claimed hamstring injuries as the reason they couldn't practice. The only strenuous thing they did was ride a stationary bicycle. "Hey, we know what's going on," coach Ken Whisenhunt said, "so I'm really not going to have much to say about that."
The two players have much in common. Both are from Florida State and are represented by Drew Rosenhaus. And, most important, both have a long time to wait before becoming unrestricted free agents.
Anquan Boldin has two years remaining, and Darnell Dockett has three. The club won't even discuss a new contract with Dockett. With Boldin, management says it would like to extend his deal when the opportunity presents itself.
Boldin is irritated because he says management promised him a new contract at least two years ago. He didn't seem pacified by the team's recent willingness to listen to trade offers.
The Cardinals say they were surprised by the lack of interest in Boldin, but Boldin doesn't think the club was serious about dealing him. Boldin declined to answer when asked if would report to training camp in late July.
Boldin can build a case that the team reneged on a promise to give him a new contract, but he needs to realize public sentiment has turned against him. Once a fan favorite, Boldin is being roundly criticized for wanting a new deal with so many years left on his present one.
A solution to the problem seems nowhere in sight. The team views re-signing strong safety Adrian Wilson and linebacker Karlos Dansby as higher priorities, although it's not believed they are in serious negotiations to extend either contract at the moment.
The club isn't likely to address Boldin's contract before 2010.
--In one minicamp practice, running back Beanie Wells displayed the skills he will be bring to the Cardinals as a rookie, and what challenges he faces.
Early in the practice, the Cardinals were working on a lot of offensive misdirection and timing plays.
Wells looked uncomfortable running draw plays. He was leaving the backfield too early and didn't "sell" that the play could be a pass.
Later in that practice, however, Wells looked powerful and fast during the team session.
He took one handoff and went off-tackle. He spotted an opening and blew through it, running into the back of one of his linemen in the process. Wells never missed a step and exploded into the secondary.
The Cardinals know Wells will need to develop in some areas. He wasn't asked to do much in the passing game at Ohio State, so he'll need to develop his blocking skills.
Wells assures everyone that catching the ball will be no problem, but he didn't do that much at Ohio State, either.
--Coach Ken Whisenhunt is in his third year and minicamp went smoother than it did the past two years.
"It seems like we're a lot further along at this time than we were last year," Whisenhunt said. "I don't know if it's because of having the carryover from the extra five weeks of the season, or if it's our young guys not making a lot of mistakes.
"I'm excited. It seems like we've built on some of the things we did later in the season last year. That's a good thing."
--The Cardinals have fired two college scouts, George Belu and Dave Razzano.
Belu scouted the Midwest and East. He had been with the team for eight years and was a coach for 38 years before that. Razzano had been with the club three years and in the NFL for 21.
Their departures leave the team with a young staff. The most veteran scout by far is Jerry Hardaway, who has been in the league 21 years.
--Lower back issues kept backup quarterback Brian St. Pierre from practicing at the recent minicamp. Missing practice bothered him more than the back.
"It's the first practice I've ever missed," said St. Pierre, who found watching practice "very uncomfortable."
--CB Greg Toler, the team's fourth-round pick, reminds people in the organization of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, last year's first-round pick. Both are very fast and came from smaller college programs. Rodgers-Cromartie sees the similarities, too.
"Dominique, he just let me know we have the same game," Toler said. "That's how he was when he came in and he said, 'you'll get through it.'"
Like Rodgers-Cromartie, Toler must learn how to study tape, something he didn't have to do much at tiny Saint Paul's, a Division II in Virginia.
Free safety Antrel Rolle told Toler to pay attention in the classroom.
"He told me to take good notes, that it would take me a long ways," Toler said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Especially this time of year, there are a lot of season allergies out there. I think maybe this was a seasonal injury, is what it seems to be. I'm going to look into that and see if I can figure that out." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt on receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who want new contracts, sitting out at minicamp because of hamstring "injuries."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Cardinals have the salary cap space to accommodate the contract demands of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, receiver Anquan Boldin and safety Adrian Wilson.
It's questionable, however, if they will decide to pay that much in cold, hard cash over the next few months. The organization's commitment to winning will be tested, and fans are ready to judge.
The club stepped up in the contract with quarterback Kurt Warner, guaranteeing $19 million of the $23 million total.
The Cardinals haven't been a major player in free agency, preferring to sharp for bargains.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Karlos Dansby: Tendered at $9.678M; signed tender March 4.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--G/C Scott Peters.
--TE Jerame Tuman.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)
--C Pat Ross (not tendered as ERFA) was the backup all year.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--CB Michael Adams: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DE Bertrand Berry: UFA; $1M/1 yr.
--OG Elton Brown: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Ralph Brown: UFA; $745,000/1 yr.
--FB Tim Castille: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Karlos Dansby: Franchise FA: $9.678M/1 yr.
--P Ben Graham: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Clark Haggans: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Ben Patrick: ERFA; terms unknown.
--TE Leonard Pope: RFA; $1.01M/1 yr.
--QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA; $1M/1 yr.
--C Lyle Sendlein: ERFA; terms unknown.
--TE Stephen Spach: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Pago Togafau: ERFA; terms unknown.
--OT Elliot Vallejo: ERFA; terms unknown.
--QB Kurt Warner: UFA; $23M/2 yrs, $15M SB; 2009 cap: $11.5M.
--NT Gabe Watson: RFA; $1.545M/1 yr.
--TE Anthony Becht: FA Rams; $745,000/1 yr.
--TE Dominique Byrd: FA; terms unknown.
--FB Dan Kreider: FA; $745,000/1 yr.
--LS Mike Leach: FA Broncos; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Keith Lewis: FA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Bryant McFadden: UFA Steelers; $10M/2 yrs, $1M RB/5M guaranteed; 2009 cap: $5M.
--OT Oliver Ross: FA; terms unknown.
--RB Jason Wright: UFA Browns; $2M/2 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--RB J.J. Arrington: UFA Broncos; $10M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.
--LB Monty Beisel: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
--CB Eric Green: UFA Dolphins; terms unknown.
--LS Nathan Hodel (released/failed physical).
--CB Rod Hood (released).
--RB Edgerrin James (released).
--DE Travis LaBoy (released/failed physical).
--DE Antonio Smith: UFA Texans $35.5M/5 yrs, $12.5M guaranteed.
--FB Terrelle Smith: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.