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Contract Move Keeps Justin Pugh In Place On Offensive Line

Guard adjusted deal to get Cardinals more cap space

The photo Justin Pugh put on his Instagram on March 12 seemed like a normal offseason activity, with the veteran getting a fresh look from Ed the barber.

But maybe it also held double meaning with free agency upcoming -- foreshadowing a move that impacted the team and a good reason why General Manager Steve Keim was so certain of Pugh's spot in the starting lineup.

Keim said Monday Pugh was coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, and said Pugh would remain at left guard for the Cardinals. It makes sense then when -- in addition to Pugh's play -- the veteran also agreed to a pay reduction (a haircut, if you will) that lowers his cap number from more than $11 million this season to a little less than $7 million by dropping his salary/bonus by about $4 million, according to overthecap.com and NFLPA.com.

The Cardinals benefit from keeping Pugh. As Keim said, he had a solid year in 2020, and changing up the line can't be a complete gut job, not when the cap is tight. D.J. Humphries is locked in at left tackle, Pugh is the left guard, Rodney Hudson is the center and Kelvin Beachum has a good chance to start again at right tackle (depending on what strides Josh Jones might make in the offseason.) Right guard does have Justin Murray returning, but maybe Jones makes a move, or newcomer Brian WInters.

In any event, Kyler Murray should have a solid group in front of him, necessary going into this crucial season.

Pugh haircut
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