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Cardinals Add Justin Pugh To Offensive Line

Posted Mar 17, 2018

Former Giant to play guard in Arizona

The Cardinals signed former Giants guard Justin Pugh to a five-year contract.

Selling Justin Pugh on coming to the Cardinals – coming to Arizona – wasn’t simple, not when the East Coast guy who had played his first five years in the NFL in New York was nervous about going west.

But the Cardinals “put me at ease,” Pugh said Saturday, after signing a five-year free agent contract reportedly with $20 million in guarantees.

“Just tell me I’m not going to have rattlesnakes in my front yard, and I’m good,” said the outgoing Pugh during his introductory press conference. “The no humidity thing is amazing. I’m a big guy and we sweat, that’s definitely a plus. And the golf. Larry Fitz(gerald) and Patrick Peterson golf all the time. I’m trying to be the best football player, and try to beat those guys in golf sometimes.”

Pugh, 27, will play guard for the Cardinals, although he has played every position in the line in a game except for center (and he has practiced there enough where he could play in a pinch.) He figures to be on the right side, with veteran Mike Iupati returning to play left guard.

Left tackle will be D.J. Humphries, and at the moment, the Cards have choices at center (returning starter A.Q. Shipley or Evan Boehm) and right tackle (new free agent signee Andre Smith, or holdover Jared Veldheer.)

Veldheer’s status is a question, although with the amount of injuries the Cards have had on the offensive line, finding a way to keep a quality third tackle on the roster would make some sense.

Pugh too has had injuries. The Giants’ No. 1 draft pick in 2013 has had more success at guard, and started all 63 games he played in. But Pugh has only played 16 games once, in his rookie season, and he missed eight games last season with back issues and finished the season on injured reserve.

Pugh said his back is “good, great” and he was not concerned. No surgery was needed, and he is confident the core work he undergoes to keep it strong will keep him on the field.

The Cardinals pushed hard to get Pugh, bringing him in for a visit and never letting him leave before a deal was done. Pugh said there were a “few teams” interested – reportedly, he was to visit the Colts had he left Arizona without a contract.

Here, Pugh is reunited with former college teammate Chandler Jones, a defensive player he would battle at Syracuse in practice and who joined him as showing up to college undersized.

“Me and Chandler didn’t know how good we were in college,” Pugh said. “Chandler weighed about a buck-twenty when he came to Syracuse. I was out of shape. They called me ‘Pugh-ny,’ that was my nickname when I first got there.

“We made a pact when he was a junior and I was a sophomore we’d both go first round.”

Jones was the 21st pick in his draft, and Pugh went 19 a year later.

Pugh acknowledged he was taken aback a little once he realized the Giants weren’t going to bring him back – “It’s like that first girlfriend, you think it’s going to last forever” – but he enjoyed the chance to go through free agency and get to truly choose where he was going to play football for the first time in his life.

“It’s great to be wanted,” he said.

NO MORE BROWNS AT WIDE RECEIVER

The Cardinals saw their second Brown wide receiver leave in free agency when Jaron Brown agreed to a one-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks. Previously, John Brown signed a one-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens.

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