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Cardinals Have Strong Showing in Free Agency – So Far

By Cameron Moon

The Cardinals may not have made free agency waves in the mold of the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason, but they are definitely headed in the right direction. The biggest move was the addition of Kevin Kolb, a promising yet unproven quarterback acquired via trade from the Eagles. He will step in immediately and add some much needed stability and skill at the Cardinals weakest spot. While the move to get Kolb was the headline catching move of the week, the Cards also made some other strong moves.

The secondary took a hit with the departure of the team’s most physical corner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the Kolb trade, but Arizona bounced back in the signing of equally physical Richard Marshall on a one year contract, who most recently played in Carolina. In addition, the team agreed to terms with their first round pick, Patrick Peterson from LSU. Peterson, a rangy corner in a safety’s body will also be impactful returning kicks come September. The addition of Marshall and signing of Peterson, as well as the current veteran safety combination of Kerry Rhodes, and the playmaking Adrian Wilson gives the team a strong and deep defensive backfield, and they will be the strength of the defense.

The Cardinals also upgraded what is debatably their weakest position, inside linebacker, with the signing of former Philadelphia Eagle Stewart Bradley. Bradley, who missed the entire 2009 season with a torn ACL, had his highs and lows in his first season returning from the injury, but Bradley was still able to bang out 60 tackles, as well as one interception and sack apiece. Bradley is a smart veteran player that will provide leadership to a unit that was inconsistent and underperformed last season. Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are still in the mix, but each is turning 34 this season, and their age is starting to show, based on their 2010 performance: 97 tackles, 10 sacks between them.

On the offensive side of the ball, the loss of Steve Breaston to the Kansas City Chiefs hurts the depth of the receiving corp, as he was responsible for 718 receiving yards, second best on the team, and 22% of the teams receiving total. Arizona did succeed in re-signing Early Doucet, their oft injured third round selection in the 2008 draft. He has not lived up to expectations since being drafted, but has only played in 26 games in three seasons. When healthy, he is talented enough to crack the starting lineup and make an impact for the Cardinals, something to look out for in 2011.

Another new weapon for Kevin Kolb is wideout Chansi Stuckey. Stuckey, who played in Cleveland the last two seasons, has been a very serviceable slot receiver since being drafted by the Jets in 2007. Stuckey has decent size (6’0”, 196) speed, and should be a matchup problem for most defenders that will be lining up across from him during the season.

The Tight End position got a massive face lift this week, most notably with the addition of former Baltimore Raven Todd Heap. Heap has spent the entirety of his career in Baltimore and provided them with their most stable pass catching option in the last 10 years (he’s averaged 549 yards and 4 touchdowns). If he had been a member of the Cardinals last season, those numbers would have been far and away enough for the top spot statistically.

Relatively unknown but productive Tight End Jeff King was also added this week, providing another boost at the position. In 2010 King racked up just 19 receptions for 121 yards, but had two touchdowns, something Arizona could have used more of. Last year’s starter, Ben Graham, only caught fifteen passes for 123 yards all season. King has never been known as a pass catching tight end in the likes of a Todd Heap, but rather a strong blocking Tight End that can protect Kevin Kolb, as well as give the team a talented run blocker when they decide to run the ball.

It is unclear whether or not the team is done making moves, but there is definitely optimism in the desert air, and success is in the Cards.

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2 Responses to “Cardinals Have Strong Showing in Free Agency – So Far”

  1. jvhinaz says:

    what? DRC is NOT a physical corner – he notoriously avoided contact. Ben Graham is the punter, not a starting TE. I think Spach or Patrick was the starting TE

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