Signing veteran Malcolm Butler in the spring was a big step for the Cardinals in trying to fill the void after Patrick Peterson left as a free agent.
But now, Butler might not be that player, after he has missed both days of practice this week and is contemplating retirement for personal reasons. The team placed him on the Reserve/Retired list Tuesday afternoon.
The outcome "remains to be seen," coach Kliff Kingsbury said earlier Tuesday, adding "I don't want to get into hypotheticals just yet."
Kingsbury said he had not talked to Butler.
By putting him on the Reserve list, the Cardinals save a roster spot as teams were required to get to the 53-man limit. Kingsbury will address the media again Wednesday morning
Butler was signed to a one-year contract in March for $3.25 million, all of it guaranteed. He had been released from the Tennessee Titans – who just happen to be the Cardinals' Week 1 opponent in Nashville.
"I hope that he finds clarity," wide receiver Christian Kirk said.
Cornerback depth has been a concern throughout the offseason. Byron Murphy is the team's No. 1 corner. Veteran Robert Alford also figures to get some playing time, although he is currently on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Rookie fourth-round pick Marco Wilson has had a good training camp, and would benefit the most playing-time-wise if Butler is not around. Fellow rookie Tay Gowan and waiver pickup Luq Barcoo are the other cornerback options.
Kingsbury said Wilson has shown enough that he can start immediately if needed, "no question."
"We feel really good where we are at at the position," Kingsbury said. "Marco's emergence has been really impressive, for a rookie to step in and compete the way he has. We like Tay's skillset, we like what we have seen from Barcoo.
"Robert is an established player who has looked good physically, and BMurp continues to ascend."
Kingsbury said Alford suffered only mild symptoms and has been working out on his own, so the Cardinals are confident he can be ready for the Titans game when he gets off the Covid list.
Butler's status, and whether he needs to take up a roster spot on the 53-man squad, is a crucial decision to make as time goes by Tuesday.
"(Butler) hasn't been much of a discussion," linebacker Devon Kennard said. "We have to keep the train moving. I personally don't know anything about that situation. I wish him well, I hope he figures out whatever he has going on, and if he comes back, great. If he doesn't, the train has to keep moving."