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Cardinals Ease Into Free Agency

New safety reportedly on the way; Massie leaves for Bears


Tackle Bobby Massie took a deal with the Bears Wednesday.

With millions and millions of salary cap space available around the NFL, the first official day of free agency featured plenty of eye-popping new contracts.

The Cardinals, however, with General Manager Steve Keim's "line-in-the-sand" approach and cap space that isn't as gargantuan as some in the league, weren't part of it. Not yet.

"We were one game away from the Super Bowl this year and we feel like we're just a few pieces away from winning it all," Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said Wednesday, after backup quarterback Drew Stanton officially signed his new

contract. "We want to make sure we make smart decisions, being very aggressive where we can be."

Multiple reports have the Cardinals agreeing with veteran safety Tyvon Branch, formerly of the Chiefs, although nothing official has been announced. The Cardinals' secondary figures to undergo change, with safety Rashad Johnson an unrestricted free agent and restricted free agent Tony Jefferson now allowed to solicit offer sheets from other teams.

The Cardinals did lose a player Wednesday, although it was not unexpected. Right tackle Bobby Massie took a three-year deal (worth a reported $18 million) with the Bears, opening the door for 2015 first-round pick D.J. Humphries to move into the starting lineup – assuming he can grab hold of the job after sitting out all 16 games as a rookie. Guard Ted Larsen was expected to visit the 49ers.

Pass rushers continued to come off the board to mega-money. Olivier Vernon went to the New York Giants for a reported $29 million in the first year of the deal alone. Bruce Irvin got a reported $37 million on a four-year deal, numbers that seemed small by the time the day ended.

The only contract signed for the Cardinals Wednesday was by backup quarterback Drew Stanton, who had agreed to his deal Tuesday.

"I didn't want to leave but you have to be prepared to leave," Stanton said. "That's the unfortunate part about signing up for this job, and especially the backup job I have embraced. At the same time being a part of this situation and knowing so many great people in this organization from top to bottom and the upward swing we are on, I want to stay part of this ride."

Stanton said that even going into his 10th NFL season, he hasn't given up on his dream to start. But "I don't want to see Carson (Palmer) get hurt either," Stanton said. "I am essentially an insurance policy, and that's what I want to be."

Images of Cardinals cheerleader Sarah from throughout the year

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