NFC Notes: Cardinals, Panthers, Seahawks

     

Cardinals

The Cardinals signed CB Robert Alford with the intention of slotting him in as the No. 2 cornerback last offseason. However, a broken leg in training camp ended Alford’s season before it really began. Now, the veteran says he’s fully healthy and ready to finally get on the field for Arizona. 

“I’ve been getting a lot of comments and DMs about, how am I feeling?” Alford said via Lisa Matthews of the team website. “I’m feeling good. I’m 100 percent. … I’m ready to rock. I’m ready for them to set the date that we can come back for the offseason and start this thing rolling.”

  • Notre Dame S Alohi Gilman had a private visit with the Cardinals that was canceled due to the shutdown. (Justin Melo)

Panthers

Panthers GM Marty Hurney shed some light on what went into one of the more confusing trades of this offseason so far when Carolina sent G Trai Turner to the Chargers in exchange for LT Russell Okung. Turner is five years younger than Okung and Carolina didn’t pick up much salary flexibility in the deal or even get a draft pick back. However, Hurney pointed to the positional value of left tackle compared to guard as a reason they pulled the trigger, as well the presence of Okung’s former position coach. 

“I got an email one night, actually after a report came out, and they proposed the trade with Russell for Trai,” Hurney said via the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue. “Obviously, you know, the opportunity to get a left tackle that has played at Russell’s level, and obviously we have Pat Meyer who was with him last year, and very familiar with him … Trai has been a great player for us, but the ability to get an experienced left tackle, someone who can really help bring (2019 second-round OT Greg Little) along — we think Greg is very talented and has a good chance to be a very good player, and maybe has some position flexibility.”

While the team traded up to take Little in the second round last year and has now discussed trying him at left guard, Hurney said the addition of Okung does not mean they’ve given up on Little being their left tackle of the future. 

“We think Greg is very talented and has a chance to be a very good player and maybe have some position flexibility,” Hurney said via the team website. “We have all the confidence in the world in Greg. It just gives him time to come in and get with a guy who’s played in this league at a high level for a long time.”

  • While the Panthers are reportedly not shopping WR Curtis Samuel, the Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia says if the Eagles offer them a third-round pick and CB Sidney Jones it might be enough to get them to pull the trigger. 
  • That’s a decent return for a player like Samuel in the final year of his rookie contract if Carolina doesn’t intend to re-sign him, while the Eagles’ need for a receiver is well-documented. 
  • Panthers HC Matt Rhule didn’t offer much more explanation for why the team parted ways with QB Cam Newton, other than saying they thought it was best to move forward: “I really enjoyed getting to know him. … In the end we felt it was the best thing for our team to move forward. I have no doubt he’ll play well.” (Joe Person)
  • Rhule added new QB Teddy Bridgewater made sense because of his history with OC Joe Brady and fit in the offense, though he said Newton wouldn’t have been a bad fit and didn’t want to get into a comparison between the two. 
  • Rhule mentioned the team hasn’t ruled out taking a quarterback in the first round or later. (David Newton)
  • Regarding the release of S Eric Reid, Rhule had a similar rationale: “I think he’s a good guy, a special guy. I just think overall it was the best thing for us moving forward.” (Person)
  • Both Panthers LBs Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead will be able to play middle linebacker as Carolina shifts to a more positionless defense, according to Rhule. (Jourdan Rodrigue)
  • Rhule thinks the strong college connections his staff has will serve them well in gathering intel for this unusual draft: “The tape is information, the Combine was information, the Senior Bowl was information,” Rhule said. “But also the connections that we have and the time that we’ve spent either facing or coaching a lot of these guys is information as well.” (Kristen Balboni)

Seahawks

The NFC was already arguably the toughest conference even before Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers. The Seahawks have the NFC’s last two Super Bowl representatives — the 49ers and Rams — in their own division, plus a Cardinals team that’s on the rise with WR DeAndre Hopkins joining former No. 1 overall QB Kyler Murray. However, Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner said on ESPN’s “First Take” he likes Seattle’s chances. 

“I feel really confident. Obviously, Russell [Wilson] is an amazing quarterback; the things that he does on the field are just amazing. Like you said, he’s one of the greatest quarterbacks in our game,” Wagner said via NFL Media’s Jelani Scott. “We’re confident on that side. I feel like from the defensive standpoint, there’s a lot of room for improvement. We have to play a little bit better. I feel like if we make those changes and make those improvements, I still feel like we’ll be the team to beat.”

  • ESPN’s Brady Henderson says the Seahawks were attracted to CB Quinton Dunbar‘s ball skills and think that could be an upgrade at their No. 2 corner spot. Seattle’s former No. 2 CB Tre Flowers had a tendency to panic when the ball was in the air and draw penalties. 
  • Henderson adds the team is confident Dunbar can adjust to the particular step-kick technique the Seahawks ask of their cornerbacks as opposed to back-pedaling, unlike their last big veteran corner addition, Cary Williams.
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