In the span of a day, the Arizona Cardinals nailed down John Abraham for their defense and Eric Winston for their offense.
Carson Palmer said it’s “unheard of” for any team, let alone the Cardinals, to get two talented and valuable players like Abraham and Winston to come on board on the same day.
“To get a guy that’s started how many games for how many years?” Palmer said when speaking of Abraham. “And Eric Winston, who’s started a ton of games and been an elite tackle. You get 10, 15, 20-percent better when you add two players like that.”
“Shocked, excited, happy,” Palmer said. “That’s when you know your organization is trying to win football games now…today.”
Abraham has 122 sacks in his illustrious career. Quite a few of them being off Palmer.
“Yea, John got me good one time last year,” Palmer said. “John’s got me a lot. I played against him, I feel like, every year of my career one time, and he’s gotten his hands on me.”
Abraham was one of THE most sought after free agents in this offseason. The Patriots, Seahawks and Broncos were all interested in him, but his asking price was a bit too high for those teams, causing them to turn away from him, much to the delight of the Cardinals.
In the end, the Cardinals were the best team and the best fit for Abraham.
“The [Cardinals] defense is pretty much the defense I had already [with the Falcons], so I didn’t have to worry about making a lot of changes in my personal thing when it came to learning the defense and knowing the people around me,” Abraham said. “They took me in with open arms and they knew exactly what I was going to do and exactly what kind of player I am.”
Rookie inside linebacker Kevin Minter grew up in Suwanee, Ga., which is about a 40 minute drive from Atlanta, Ga., where Abraham spent his last seven years as a member of the Falcons. Minter saw quite a bit of Abraham as he was coming up, and now that he’s actually going to lineup alongside him, it’s like a dream come true for him.
“The guy’s been around a long time, and it’s kinda cool being with a guy like that,” Minter said. “He’s going to make tremendous contributions to the team. It’s going to make my job a lot easier in the middle if they [opposing teams] have to account for him.”
The Kansas City Chiefs let Winston go in March, in a cost-cutting move no doubt, as he was looking for at least $3 million a season. You couple that with the Chiefs selecting tackle Eric Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and tackle Braden Albert being franchise-tagged and the writing was clearly on the wall for Winston, as his time was up.
“I think anytime you don’t “get what you want,” you’re gonna be disappointed, but it is what it is,” Winston said. “I think if you dwell on that too long, you’re just gonna stay in a perpetual state of disappointment.”
“What happened happened,” Winston said. “I’m here now and it’s time to go have some fun.”
Head coach Bruce Arians made it clear: pretty much every position is up for grabs during training camp, including the right tackle position that Winston locked down in Houston and Kansas City for many years.
“I feel very comfortable that we’re gonna come out with a really good right tackle and a really good backup, because they’re gonna go after each other,” Arians said. “Everywhere along that line, we’ve got really good competition.”
Winston has been in his fair share of position battles over the years with the Texans and Chiefs, so fighting to be the No. 1 guy at right tackle for the Cardinals is something he’s ready for.
“You compete every year here in the league,” Winston said. “The guys who don’t think they’re competing every year in the league, they’re usually out of it pretty fast.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to be a starter for a long time, played a lot of consecutive games, but every year I’ve come into camp trying to win a spot and this year won’t be any different,” Winston said.