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Free Agent Primer: Linebackers

Position-by-position look for Cardinals shows key pieces hitting free agency


Matt Shaughnessy (91) is a free agent linebacker the Cards would like to keep.

Free agency begins on March 11. The Cardinals have many key pieces in place, but there are still needs to be addressed. We'll break it down by position over the next 10 days as unsigned NFL players prepare to hit the open market.

More free agent analysis: QB I RB I WR I TE I OL I ST I DL

Free agent primer: Linebackers

Cap numbers of players under contract for 2014: Daryl Washington ($6 million); John Abraham ($3.93 million); Sam Acho ($1.51 million); Lorenzo Alexander ($1.46 million); Kevin Minter ($997,795); Alex Okafor ($613,607); Dontay Moch ($570,000); Dan Giordano ($497,750); Adrian Tracy ($495,000); Kenny Demens ($495,000); Kenny Rowe ($420,000)

Scheduled free agents: Karlos Dansby, Matt Shaughnessy, Marcus Benard (restricted)

Need: High

Analysis: The main priority is to re-sign Karlos Dansby, who was arguably the team's best defensive player in 2013. He is expected to hit the market on Tuesday, and there is always the possibility of another team offering him a lucrative deal. However, Dansby and the Cardinals seem to understand they have a mutually beneficial relationship, and both sides are open to keeping him in Arizona. Daryl Washington is a staple at the other inside linebacker spot, while 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter hopes to get more playing time in his second season.

John Abraham had double-digit sacks and made the Pro Bowl a season ago, so he figures to get a good chunk of playing time at one of the outside linebacker spots. The other is up for grabs, as Matt Shaughnessy is a free agent while Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and Alex Okafor are all coming off season-ending injuries.  Abraham, 35, is on the last year of his deal and the Cardinals do not have a dynamic edge rusher behind him, so outside linebacker could be one of the team's top priorities this offseason.

Notable scheduled NFL free agents: Anthony Spencer, Brandon Spikes, Daryl Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Desmond Bishop, Vincent Rey, Keith Rivers, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Calvin Pace, O'Brien Schofield, Wesley Woodyard, Stephen Nicholas, Jameel McClain, Paris Lenon, D.J. Williams, Parys Haralson, Pat Angerer, Jon Beason.

Notable past free agent LB signings by the Cardinals: Karlos Dansby (2013); John Abraham (2013); Joey Porter (2010); Paris Lenon (2010); Clark Haggans (2008); Travis LaBoy (2008); Seth Joyner (1994).

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