The money alone wasn’t enough for Rosevelt Colvin.
Now the Arizona Cardinals have to be wondering exactly what will be enough to draw in a free agent.
Colvin, the Cardinals’ top target in free agency, agreed to a contract Tuesday with New England. It was believed the Cards had the largest contract offer on the table for the pass-rushing linebacker.
“We can’t twist arms to have people accept our deals even when they are the best offers that are made to them,” said vice president of football operations Rod Graves, who couldn’t confirm if the Cards had made the biggest contract offer to Colvin.
Graves termed Colvin’s choice “disappointing,” especially since he said Colvin’s agent, Kennard McGuire, led the Cardinals to believe Arizona was at the worst one of only a couple of teams Colvin was considering.
The Cardinals have also gone after safety Dexter Jackson, but an offer of more than $2 million a season was discarded as soon as Jackson got Pittsburgh to up its offer into the same vicinity. Even though Jackson hadn’t officially signed yet, he still is apparently out of reach of the Cardinals, although Graves said as far as he knew Jackson hasn’t ruled out Arizona.
Meanwhile, quarterback Kordell Stewart is reportedly hoping Chicago can match Arizona’s current offer before he makes a commitment, another possible example of a player who simply doesn’t want to call the Cardinals his team.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say that certainly is something players and agents discuss,” Graves said, “and it’s one of the bigger hurdles we have to get over.” Without signing any free agents, the Cardinals still have a little more than $28 million under the salary cap.
The other players with offers from the Cardinals are linebacker James Darling, fullback James Hodgins and defensive end Vonnie Holliday. The team has decided not to extend an offer to defensive end Chike Okeafor.
With quarterback Jeff Blake visiting Tuesday, the Cardinals have a backup plan to Stewart. Blake, who has also visited Chicago and Pittsburgh, said Tuesday he felt his future wouldn’t be decided until Stewart made a decision. But Graves said Blake could move from backup plan to Plan A soon.
“Even though we made an offer to Kordell and (agent) Leigh (Steinberg) indicated he would respond back to us, he has not,” Graves said. “We’re not going to sit back and wait on Stewart. . . . We simply don’t want to be left and missing other opportunities in the process.”
Neither McGuire nor Steinberg returned repeated phone messages Tuesday.
Blake may turn out to be right guy for the job anyway. For all the players who have visited and sounded lukewarm about coming to the Cardinals, Blake made it clear playing for a long-struggling franchise would not be a problem.
“I’ve played with the Bengals. I’ve played with the Saints. There isn’t too much convincing they have to do,” Blake said. “The best place to (win) is to do it in a place it’s never been done before.”