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Cardinals Attack Free Agency As Expected

Posted Mar 13, 2015

Six players signed in first week, addressing needs on offensive line, defensive front seven

Free agents put their signature to contract this week for the Cardinals (clockwise from top left): Guard Mike Iupati, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, defensive end Cory Redding and defensive tackle Corey Peters.

At the Scouting combine in mid-February, General Manager Steve Keim figured the Cardinals were going to be “pretty active” during free agency and address needs that he had not been shy of sharing: getting more athletic at linebacker and more physical and aggressive on the interior of the offensive line.

A week into the process – including the speculation-filled “tampering period” to start things off – Keim and the Cards have done exactly what they promised.

-- On the interior of the offensive line, they signed guard Mike Iupati to a five-year contract and center A.Q. Shipley to a two-year deal.

-- At linebacker, they signed inside man Sean Weatherspoon and outside pass rusher LaMarr Woodley, each to one-year deals.

-- On the defensive line, with the departure of Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams, they signed Cory Redding and Corey Peters.

-- They also released long-time center Lyle Sendlein and restructured the contract of quarterback Carson Palmer, two moves that created about $10 million of salary cap space.

According to the NFL Players Association, that leaves the Cardinals -- who had an estimated $14 million of cap space heading into free agency, and also re-signed long snapper Mike Leach and defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu in that time -- with $9.93 million in cap space. Keim still has some room with which to work.

Friday, things were quiet around the team facility. Broncos inside linebacker Nate Irving, who is coming off an ACL tear in November, visited Thursday although he left without a deal. He could still be signed, and it’s possible he could be a fallback depending on the situation of the still-suspended Daryl Washington. Washington should know by late May if he will be reinstated by the NFL and if he still needs to serve any punishment for his assault conviction last year.

The Cardinals may have had interest in outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, but Orakpo never got loose from his visit to Tennessee before signing with the Titans. Even with Woodley – who went sackless last season in just six games in Oakland before getting hurt – the Cards still need to find a pass rusher or two.

Running back also remains a position the Cardinals are likely to address. But as the top choices sign elsewhere, it’s possible Keim will let that be a spot where the Cards look in the draft given how deep this year’s group appears to be. Constant speculation about a trade for the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson has not gone away, but the Vikings would prefer to keep their star rusher and continue to try and mend what has become a frayed relationship. Drafting a running back would also make more financial sense, although cap space is not an issue for Keim right now.

The Cardinals have also made a habit under Keim to be patient with free agency, nabbing one or two guys well after the initial wave of free agency for a reasonable one-year contract. That’s how they have gotten two of the best players on the defense the past two seasons: linebacker Karlos Dansby in 2013 and cornerback Antonio Cromartie in 2014.

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