The Cardinals cut three veterans Tuesday: defensive end Travis LaBoy (55), cornerback Rod Hood (26) and running back Edgerrin James (32).
The Cardinals finally released Edgerrin James Tuesday. But he wasn't the only veteran caught in the wake of draft-related decisions.
In addition to James' dismissal, the Cards also cut cornerback Rod Hood and defensive end/linebacker Travis LaBoy. All three spent most of the 2008 season as starters.
Letting James go was the worst-kept secret for weeks, a move anticipated long before the Cardinals' playoff run had even ended. Hood and LaBoy, however, figured to be part of the Cards' future plans.
"It's never easy to release veteran players who have contributed to the team's success and these three individuals certainly fall into that category," coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement released by the team. "But like every decision we make, it simply comes down to what is in the best interest of our football team and what gives us the best chance for success.
"We're grateful to all three of them for their contributions and wish them nothing but the best in the future."
The status of all three players changed on draft weekend. The selection of running back Beanie Wells in the first round cemented James' future, and the Cardinals also took another running back, LeRod Stephens-Howling, in the seventh round.
Hood was already going to be the nickel back after the team signed Bryant McFadden to pair with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But he became expendable when the team took cornerback Greg Toler in the fourth round and safety Rashad Johnson in the third round. With the Cardinals' use of four safeties in dime packages – dropping starting free safety Antrel Rolle in slot coverage and strong safety Adrian Wilson in the box – and the presence of veteran cornerback Ralph Brown on the roster, Hood (and his $3 million salary) got caught in a numbers game.
LaBoy, oft-injured during his lone season in Arizona, had four sacks – although two sacks came in the first game in San Francisco and two more in the fifth game against Buffalo. After that, groin, ankle and bicep problems limited his effectiveness. When the Cards took pass rushers Cody Brown and Will Davis in the draft, the team had an overload at the outside linebacker/defensive rush end position.
The Cardinals still have veterans Bertrand Berry, Clark Haggans and Chike Okeafor for those positions.
The Cardinals were looking for cap space to both sign rookies and address possible contract extensions with linebacker Karlos Dansby, Wilson and wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Tuesday's moves will help in that regard.
According to the NFL Players Association, James had been scheduled to make $5 million in salary, LaBoy $2 million and Hood $3 million. The trio will leave a total of about $8.5 million in pro-rated bonus money against the salary cap, putting the salary cap savings at approximately $6 million.
James arrived with much fanfare as a free agent in 2006, signing a four-year, $30 million contract. He ran for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons with the Cardinals, becoming the first Card to achieve such a feat since the franchise moved to Arizona.
But last season, James' fast start stalled early, and he was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Tim Hightower. He didn't play a snap in three games and had nine carries or less in six of the other 16 regular-season games, finishing with 514 yards rushing.
He returned to the starting lineup for the season finale and the postseason, but knew his time as a Cardinal was coming to an end.
James requested, through agent Drew Rosenhaus, to be released during the season and reiterated that request after the season ended. The Cardinals did not want to let him go before making sure they had secured more backs through the draft.
Asked before the playoffs about whether he thought he would be cut in the offseason, James said he thought the Cards wanted it to happen and "I think the feeling is mutual. (It's) not something I'm going to contest."
James also went through personal tragedy over the past year, watching long-time girlfriend Andea Wilson, the mother of his children, battle leukemia before she passed away earlier this month. Reports from Florida said James was considering retiring to spend more time with his family, which includes four kids.
LaBoy was the team's "marquee" free agent from 2007, signing a five-year contract with $7.5 million in guarantees.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 4/28/09.