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Jonathan Cooper, Cardinals Agree To Contract

Posted Jul 28, 2013

First-round pick comes to terms on four-year deal

First-round pck Jonathan Cooper agreed to a four-year contract Sunday.

Bruce Arians didn’t want to talk about Jonathan Cooper because he wasn’t in camp, and offered a terse “last week” Sunday morning when asked when the first-round pick would start to fall behind.

A couple of minutes later, the Cardinals’ coach was handed a sheet of paper from vice president of media relations Mark Dalton informing him that the guard had finally agreed to terms on a four-year contract.

Arians announced the news to the gathered media. “He still missed time,” Arians reiterated, “but I’m a lot happier now.”

Cooper’s four-year deal will pay him around $14.5 million – all guaranteed -- under the NFL’s slotting system, with a signing bonus between $9 million and $10 million. Multiple reports have Cooper getting all of his bonus money by October, which apparently was the compromise to Cooper relenting on keeping offset language that had been the primary sticking point in the negotiations.

"I'm assuming most of you guys are wondering what took so long," General Manager Steve Keim deadpanned, "and the only real reason I can think of was the conditioning test. But through the art of negotation I have learned to bluff and I told him if he came in tonight I would run it with him. And I think we all know that's not going to happen."

Keim acknowledged the offset language had indeed been the issue but chalked it up to typical negotiations.

"I've known (agent) Todd France for 14 years," Keim said. "Through the process, some of the emotions can come out ... but I know Todd was doing the best thing for his player and I respect him. But he was smart enough to make the right decision in the end.

"Plus, I've been out to dinner with him a few times and I think he knows I can get him in a headlock."

Cooper is expected to arrive in Arizona Sunday evening. He still must take a physical and sign his contract before reporting to University of Phoenix Stadium for practice, but he is expected to practice with the team Monday after missing three workouts.

Arians said Cooper must also run his conditioning test in front of the team. Center Lyle Sendlein said he was looking forward to that part of it.

“We’re expecting that he won’t struggle because he’s in tip top shape because he’s had an extra week to work out,” Sendlein said with a grin.

“It’s good to have everyone on the team here and have the business side of things not be a distraction,” Sendlein added. “I am sure everyone is glad that’s over with. Now it’s time to find out who the top five guys are.”

Keim, who praised Cooper's work ethic and intellegence from what they saw in the offseason, didn't think the few practices Cooper has missed will be a factor and said Cooper has actually been "better than advertised" since they took him in the draft.

"He has spent a lot of time here in the offseason," Keim said. "He spent a lot of time with Harold Goodwin and Larry Zierlein, our two offensive line coaches. He's a sharp kid. He's already picked up the majority of our playbook. There are obviously a few wrinkles he's going to have to make adjustments on, but we don't feel Coop will be too far behind at all."

The Cardinals knew they needed their top choice. Cooper is slated to start at left guard. Thus far in camp, veteran Chilo Rachal has been working with the first unit at that spot. And Arians said he was disappointed in the play of the offensive line at Saturday’s practice.

“Way too many mental errors,” Arians said. “The physical part we’ll start seeing this afternoon (in the first padded practice of camp).

“We’ve got to get better. I think they have enough pride to fix it. I think they are anxious to get the pads on. Of all the people that get hurt the most playing in shorts, it’s the big guys.”

Yet Arians emphasized it is too early to truly worry about the line. Cooper’s arrival should aid improvement.

“We missed him,” Rachal said. “Coop is a good dude. It makes us better. I’m a competitor. He’s back, but I’m going to fight, claw, scratch to play.”

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