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Cardinals NFC West Free Agent Preview

Pro Football Weekly has a free agent preview on the NFC West, and here’s what they have on the Cards heading into free agency.

Unsigned players: S Hamza Abdullah (5), CB Michael Adams (3), OL D’Anthony Batiste (4), DT Alan Branch (4), WR Steve Breaston (4), FB Nehemiah Broughton (3), C Ben Claxton (4), WR Early Doucet (3), DT Keilen Dykes (1), OG Alan Faneca (13), LB Curtis Gatewood (2), P Ben Graham (6), CB Marshay Green (1), RB Tim Hightower (3), DE Kenny Iwebema (3), CB A.J. Jefferson (1), OT Brandon Keith (3), WR Max Komar (1), OG Deuce Lutui (5), FB Reagan Maui’a (3), CB Trumaine McBride (3), LB Cyril Obiozor (1), TE Ben Patrick (4), NT Bryan Robinson (14), C Lyle Sendlein (4), TE Stephen Spach (4), LB Reggie Walker (2), CB Matt Ware (7), DT Gabe Watson (5), RB Jason Wright (6).

Analysis: After what turned out to be a very disappointing 2010 campaign for the Cardinals, there are no locks to be re-signed. Entering the season, WR Steve Breaston, a quality No. 2 wideout behind Larry Fitzgerald when healthy and possessing an excellent attitude, seemed to fill the bill in that regard. But that no longer appears to be the case, with the team having become increasingly concerned about the condition of Breaston’s knees.

O-line starters Sendlein and Lutui are better than 50-50 candidates to be re-signed. Lutui, the starting right guard, will not come cheap and is likely to test the market for the best possible deal available. Another starter on the line, Faneca, is a good bet to re-sign after showing the Cardinals enough at left guard to justify starting status for at least another season, but he could decide to retire.

With 2010 No. 1 pick Dan Williams expected to start at nose tackle, the futures of Robinson, another retirement possibility, and Branch look murky. Provided the free-agent rules revert back to the way they were two seasons ago, Hightower is likely to receive a relatively high tender. The aging Graham could come back, but he is virtually guaranteed to face possibly heavy competition for the starting punting job.

As big a contract issue as any for the Cardinals is Fitzgerald’s hefty deal, which is set to expire after the 2011 season. The suspicion is Fitzgerald will not be a happy camper if the Cardinals fail to seriously investigate the free-agent market for a new starting quarterback – at whatever point they are allowed to do so.

Click HERE to see the other NFC West teams.

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