The return of Todd Heap to his hometown seemed so storybook at the time, but its ending was anything but.
Heap’s injury-ravaged time with the Cardinals came to an end Tuesday when the team released the tight end and signed tight end Kory Sperry – who was with the Chargers in 2011 before being released by San Diego at the end of the preseason in September. Heap had been due to become a free agent after the season.
After being cut by Baltimore following 10 seasons as a Raven, Heap signed a two-year contract with the Cards before the 2011 season. It was a homecoming for the player who prepped at Mesa Mountain View High School and then attended Arizona State.
But Heap missed six games because of lingering hamstring problems. He took a $1 million pay cut off his salary in a contract renegotiation before the season, trimming his deal to $1.15M for 2012, and before the season, proclaimed himself healthy and ready to put his injury problems in the rear-view mirror.
He was doing that in New England in Week 2, when his five receptions for 62 yards helped the Cards to an upset of the Patriots. But late in the game, on a key reception, Heap was drilled out of bounds by Patriots safety Steve Gregory. Gregory was later fined for the play, and Heap said at the time he hurt his posterior cruciate ligament.
Heap did not play for the Cardinals again.
Heap was inactive officially for eight games because of the knee. Then he was a “healthy scratch” the past two games after finally returning to full practice. Monday, coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked why.
“Well, he’s got to show us in practice that he’s full speed enough to be able to go, and that hasn’t been the case,” Whisenhunt said.
Heap never wanted to go into much detail about his knee issue. Recently, he told foxsportsarizona.com, “There’s always a lot more that goes into any injury, but it’s not for me to comment on. It’s not for me to raise as an issue. I just have to let people think what they think and worry about what I can do.”
It was clear Heap would not be returning to the Cards for 2013 regardless of how the end played out.
Heap ended up with 32 catches for 377 yards and one touchdown in 12 games played for the Cardinals. Heap was always listed behind