The Arizona Cardinals won seven of their final nine games last season.
They scored a significant victory Thursday by reaching agreement on a five-year deal with defensive end Calais Campbell.
Re-signing Campbell became the team's top offseason priority after Arizona's unsuccessful run at free-agent quarterback Peyton Manning.
Campbell's status as the Cardinals' franchise player removed urgency from the negotiations. Getting a deal done anyway shows both parties made a good-faith effort. That's refreshing, given how frequently the franchise tag drives a wedge between player and organization. The parties could have waited out one another, in which case Campbell might have slipped away in the future.
Campbell, 25, is a rarity in the NFL for his ability to rush the passer (14 sacks over the past two seasons) as a 3-4 defensive end. His 6-foot-8 frame lets him clog passing lanes. It also makes him a threat to block field-goal attempts.
Arizona now has both its defensive ends under long-term deals. Darnell Dockett re-signed in 2010 and remains under contract through 2015. Campbell, Dockett and 2010 first-round nose tackle Dan Williams combine to give Arizona great potential up front. Williams is the key variable now.
The Cardinals have scheduled a news conference Friday to announce Campbell's deal.