Mailbag: Cardinals and the 'cheap' label

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ken from Scottsdale, responding to my note about having received no Cardinals-related mailbag submissions recently, reminds me he did send a Cardinals-related item via e-mail:

At some point could you enlighten your readers to the fact that the Cardinals have never really been cheap when it comes to paying their players? The one area they had a history of problems with was getting first-rounders signed on time. That issue seems to be history.

The fact is, the Cardinals have always had a history of making their players one of the top paid at their position: Lomas Brown, Rob Moore, Aeneas Williams, Eric Swann, Jake Plummer, Larry Fitzgerald, Edgerrin James and now Adrian Wilson.

Compared to other teams, they have let few Pro Bowl players go [granted, they haven't had many Pro Bowlers over the years]. Tim McDonald [left for San Francisco partly because of his family] and Simeon Rice [who most Cards fans were happy to see leave]. I guess if guys in the media say the Cards are cheap over and over, people just take it as fact.

Mike Sando: Please don't include me among those dreaded "guys in the media" when it comes to this issue. As I wrote April 28 after the Cardinals released Travis LaBoy: "Don't call the Cardinals cheap. They took a high-stakes risk on LaBoy and paid the price when it didn't work out. They shelled out $41 million for James, LaBoy and Hood over the last three seasons. Such can be the price of becoming players in free agency."

The Cardinals are paying $40 million over four years to Larry Fitzgerald. They are paying $23 million over two years to Kurt Warner. They are paying $9.678 million to Karlos Dansby this season. And their new deal with Wilson includes a guaranteed $8.5 million salary in 2009, plus a $1 million signing bonus and another $6.5 million in salary next season.

We'll revisit this subject in greater depth. Consider this a starting point.