The Cardinals re-signed defensive end Frostee Rucker Tuesday, as well as kicker Jay Feely and tight end Jake Ballard. The team also released veteran guard Daryn Colledge.
Free agency opened for the Cardinals Tuesday with a handful of new agreements with current players and the reality that one of their best defensive players is headed elsewhere.
The Cardinals officially announced new contracts for defensive end Frostee Rucker (two years), kicker Jay Feely (one year) and tight end Jake Ballard (one year), as well as the expected release of veteran guard Daryn Colledge. Colledge will be designated a June 1 cut, which means when June 1 arrives, the Cardinals can move half of his $4.55 million of dead money from the 2014 cap to the 2015 cap.
But linebacker Karlos Dansby left Cardinals as a free agent for a second time, this time for the Browns. The Cardinals wanted him back, but with his age (he will be 33 during the season) the
team was looking at a two-year deal and the market is showing other options. The Arizona Republic reported Dansby will get a four-year contract with $14 million guaranteed.
Wide receiver Andre Roberts, who had already said he didn't expect to return, is getting a four-year contract with the Redskins.
Meanwhile, the official wait is on for left tackle Jared Veldheer, who is expected to arrive on his visit Tuesday night but who has already reportedly agreed to a five-year, $35 million contract. Veldheer also already changed his Twitter avatar to the Cardinals' logo. General Manager Steve Keim has made clear he wants to be able to visit with players and have them checked medically before finalizing a move. But Veldheer tweeted out a thank you to the Oakland fans just as free agency officially opened.
The Cardinals are expected to have visits from more than just Veldheer in the next day or two, although names have yet to become public.
With Dansby's departure, it opens the door for 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter to start alongside Daryl Washington. Minter played little on defense as a rookie thanks to Dansby's big season, but as Keim said at the recent Scouting combine, "you have to be prepared to move on, from any player. That's why we drafted Kevin Minter."
The Cards weren't expected to officially sign any free agents from other teams today. The window to bring in players for visits just started and Last year, the team announced a flurry of free-agent signings on the second day of the signing period. It wouldn't be a surprise, the way the Cards will try and get players to agree to a deal before leaving Arizona, for that to happen again.
In the meantime, they bring back Rucker, who fit well in the locker room and in the defensive line rotation. He provides leadership and depth, the former even more important should Dansby indeed leave. Ballard proved to be a solid, low-cost addition after signing during the season. He finished with seven receptions for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Feely had 127 points and made 30 of 36 field goals, although the Cardinals would like more consistency on kickoffs. Feely will face competition from the inexperienced Danny Hrapmann.
Colledge, who tweeted out news of his impending release over the weekend, was scheduled to make $4.8 million in salary and is 32 years old. The Cardinals want to go younger and cheaper at right guard – 2013 fourth-round pick Earl Watford is the early possibility as the new starter – especially with plans to spend much more money at left tackle.