Branch did little as a rookie, although it's too early to call him a disappointment.
The Cardinals only had five picks last year, and one of those, Florida State linebacker Buster Davis, didn't make the team. You would think the club would have great motivation to trade down from the 16th pick in exchange for more selections.
But it's going to take an overwhelming offer to get the team to do that, GM Rod Graves acknowledged. The Cardinals' tendency is to stay at No. 16, and if they move down, they don't want to go far.
Owner Bill Bidwill is thrilled the team isn't picking in the top 10, as is its usual custom, so there is virtually no chance the team will move up. Beside, the Cardinals need depth and an infusion of young talent, so it doesn't make sense to give up picks.
The Cardinals need help defensively. They especially need a corner who can contend for a starting job, or at least be the No. 3 guy, and they need a young pass rusher. Some of their best pass rushers, Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor and Travis LaBoy, have had various issues with injuries. The team needs to start developing their replacements.
The Cardinals could well draft a couple of corners this year. The starters, Rod Hood and Eric Green, are decent but there is little behind them, especially with Antrel Rolle moving to free safety.
This draft will be tilted toward defense, but that doesn't preclude the Cardinals from taking an offensive player with the first pick.
They would like to add a running back with some speed, and players such as Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois or Jonathan Stewart of Oregon will be tempting if available. But this draft is deep in running backs, so the best guess is the Cardinals will take a back after the first round.
While they want someone more explosive than Edgerrin James, they are not in a rush to replace him, either. They would like to get someone to share time with James and be ready to take over in a year or two.
LB Karlos Dansby
--Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby has decided to sign his franchise tender of $8.065 million. Dansby's agent, Kirk Wood, and the team have gotten nowhere in negotiations so Dansby decided to sign the deal to get the guaranteed money. The two sides will continue to talk but it's questionable if they can reach agreement on a multi-year deal before July 15.
--The team continued to address its defensive depth by signing outside linebacker Matt Stewart to a one-year deal. Stewart played with the Browns for the past three years and should be good on special teams. He visited the team a few weeks ago but his signing was delayed by the birth of his third child.
--Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett wants a new contract and isn't showing up to voluntary off-eason workouts. The Cardinals signed him to a contract extension in the fall of 06. With Dockett's current deal running through 2011, the club has other priorities.
"He signed what amounts to a five-year deal and he's only played one year into it," said GM Rod Graves.
--The Cardinals are bringing in potential draft choices for interviews for the first time since 2003. They stopped the practice under former coach Dennis Green. Running backs Jonathan Stewart of Oregon and Chris Johnson of East Carolina visited recently.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "One of our focuses this offseason is to be a better road team. So obviously we're going to be tested on that early." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt on playing three of the first four games on the road.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With Larry Fitzgerald signed, club officials can breathe a little easier because they have the cap space to at least put together a complete roster. They were down to less than $400,000 in cap space before Fitzgerald's deal was restructured.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: LB Karlos Dansby (tendered at $8.065M; signed April 17).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DL Rodney Bailey has the ability to play inside and out adds to his value.
--P Mitch Berger didn't secure the job in the final weeks of '07.
--QB Tim Hasselbeck is probably out after the addition of Brian St. Pierre.
--S Bhawoh Jue could provide depth.
--DT Ross Kolodziej was banged up last year, and he probably won't return.
--QB Tim Rattay is a solid backup but is trying to seek a No. 2 job elsewhere.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--TE Tim Euhus (not tendered as RFA) is average at best but could return.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--CB Michael Adams: ERFA; terms unknown.
--LB Clark Haggans: UFA Steelers; $1.5M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--P Dirk Johnson: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Travis LaBoy: UFA Titans; $22M/5 yrs, $7.5M guaranteed.
--WR Jamaica Rector: ERFA; terms unknown.
--DL Bryan Robinson: UFA Bengals; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA Steelers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Matt Stewart: UFA Browns; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Jerame Tuman: FA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--TE Troy Bienemann: ERFA; terms unknown.
--OT Elton Brown: RFA; $927,000/1 yr.
--CB Ralph Brown: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Oliver Celestin: UFA; terms unknown.
--LB Karlos Dansby: Franchise FA; $8.065M/1yr.
--CB Eric Green: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
--LS Nathan Hodel: UFA; 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Ahmad Merritt: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Sean Morey: FA; had been released by Cardinals; terms unknown.
--DE Bo Schobel: Not tendered as ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Antonio Smith: RFA; $2.017M/1 yr.
--DE Joe Tafoya: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Jerheme Urban: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--S Matt Ware: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--LB Darryl Blackstock: Not tendered as RFA/Bengals; $560,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.
--DT Chris Cooper (released).
--S Terrence Holt (released).
--LB Brandon Johnson: Not tendered as ERFA/Bengals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--WR Bryant Johnson: UFA Cardinals; $2M/1 yr, SB unknown.
--OLB Calvin Pace: UFA Jets; $42M/6 yrs, $22M guaranteed.
--OT Oliver Ross (released).
--OG Keydrick Vincent: UFA Panthers; $2M/2 yrs, $400,000 SB.