When he signed with the Cardinals in February of 2019, Robert Alford was hoping he would be the perfect partner with Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
But Alford -- and the Cardinals -- never got to find out.
Alford missed both the 2019 and 2020 season after serious training camp practice injuries, and the Cardinals -- seeking extra salary cap room -- released Alford Tuesday, according to the NFL's official transactions list. He had a year left on his original three-year deal.
The new league year arrives March 17, and teams across the league are working to get more money under the shrunken salary cap, which was officially set at $182.5 million on Tuesday morning. Cutting Alford will gain the Cards $7.5 million in cap space according to overthecap.com, pushing their estimated cap room north of $21 million. (There are reports the Cardinals are re-signing linebacker Tanner Vallejo, which would eat into that space.)
The move is not a surprise, but it also underscores the team's need to add to the position this offseason regardless of whether or not Peterson -- a free agent himself -- is re-signed.
Alford was arguably the Cardinals' best defensive player in camp in 2019 until he got hurt. Leaping to challenge a catch by wide receiver Damiere Byrd in one of the team's rare outdoor practices, Alford came down wrong and broke his leg, ending his year.
He rehabbed and was again in position to start opposite Peterson in 2020, arriving to camp in fantastic shape -- only to tear his pectoral muscle making a play during one of the very first practices, again ending his season.
Joining Peterson as a free agent are fellow cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Peterson, and the Cardinals have only one cornerback under contract that played any significant time in 2020 -- Byron Murphy Jr.. Jace Whittaker, who played briefly as a practice-squad callup, and Picasso Nelson are the other cornerbacks on the roster.