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Pass Rushers In Demand In Free Agency

Posted Mar 8, 2016

Cardinals monitor pool of talent as players able to start signing with other teams

The Cardinals seek potential pass rush help in free agency, to add to Markus Golden (44) and maybe Dwight Freeney (54) if Freeney continues his career.

Free agents can officially start switching teams Wednesday afternoon, but the pass-rusher merry-go-round has already started, which will make the Cardinals’ quest to upgrade that area just a little bit more difficult.

Both defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants and linebacker Tamba Hali of the Chiefs re-signed with their respective teams Tuesday, shrinking the pass rusher pool. Mario Williams, who had already been on the market after the Bills cut him, agreed to a deal with the Dolphins.

Pierre-Paul had apparently been of interest to the Cardinals. The player actually thanked the Cardinals specifically for their interest on his statement about his signing via social media.

“It was hard to decide, but me and my family decided that it’s best for me to stay in New York,” Pierre-Paul wrote.

Tuesday night, NFL Network reported Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin was going to sign with the Raiders. The Cardinals had also had interest in Irvin.

Giants defensive end Robert Ayers, recently released Rams defensive end Chris Long and Packers linebacker Nick Perry are expected to reach free agency as well. The Dolphins also have the transition tag on pass rusher Olivier Vernon, although even if Vernon were to go elsewhere his price is expected to be lofty.

The Cardinals did re-sign one of their own free agents Tuesday, bringing back quarterback Drew Stanton. But they are expected to have most of their free agents hit the open market, including starting safety Rashad Johnson and starting cornerback Jerraud Powers. Wednesday will also be the first day restricted free agent Tony Jefferson, who was tendered a contract offer last week, can seek offer sheets from other teams.

Another one of those Cards on the open market will be linebacker Dwight Freeney, who led the Cardinals with eight sacks in only 11 games last season. Freeney has not yet decided if he wants to play a 15th NFL season. The Cards do have interest in bringing him back if he does decide to keep playing.

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