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Free Agent Primer: Defensive Line

Posted Mar 6, 2014

Position-by-position look for Cardinals sees need for depth and future considerations

Calais Campbell (93) and Darnell Dockett (90) will start on the defensive line in 2014.

Free agency begins on March 11. The Cardinals have many key pieces in place, but there are still needs to be addressed. We’ll break it down by position over the next 10 days as unsigned NFL players prepare to hit the open market.

More free agent analysis: QB I RB I WR I TE I OL I ST

Free agent primer: Defensive line

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2014: DE Calais Campbell ($11.25 million); DT Darnell Dockett ($8.75 million); DT Dan Williams ($2.19 million); DT Anthony McCloud ($420,000); DT Alameda Ta'amu (TBA)

Scheduled free agents: DE Frostee Rucker, DE Ronald Talley (restricted); DT Everette Thompson (exclusive rights)

Need: High

Analysis: The team’s three starters are locked up, as Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams will anchor a defensive line which should be one of the Cardinals’ biggest strengths. But depth and the future is a concern, and the position will likely be addressed in some way, shape or form this offseason. Alameda Ta’amu played his way into a timeshare at nose tackle with Williams last season and was re-signed to a one-year deal on Thursday, though he tore his ACL in the 2013 finale and could miss the first portion of the year. Rucker was a key reserve last season and the front office will likely try to bring him back. If those five players return, the Cardinals look to be in good shape for 2014.

However, coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim aren’t content at the position, as they have stressed the need for depth in the trenches on both sides of the ball, especially in the rugged NFC West. Additionally, Dockett’s advancing age and contract situation make him a question mark following 2014, so the team could begin looking for his replacement.

Notable scheduled NFL free agents: DE - Jared Allen, Michael Johnson, Anthony Spencer; Antonio Smith, Red Bryant, Tyson Jackson, Justin Tuck, Brett Kiesel, Michael Bennett, Everson Griffen, Lamarr Houston, Robert Ayers. DT – B.J. Raji, Randy Starks, Jason Hatcher, Tony McDaniel, Arthur Jones, Pat Sims, Clinton McDonald, Jonathan Babineux, Henry Melton, Ryan Pickett, Kevin Williams, Peria Jerry, Paul Soliai.

Notable past free agent DL signings by the Cardinals: DE Frostee Rucker (2013); Bryan Robinson (2008); Kendrick Clancy (2006); Chike Okeafor (2005); Bertrand Berry (2004); Clyde Simmons (1994).


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