Cardinals tackle Jared Veldheer plans to play again next season.
Jared Veldheer took a day off in training camp to consider retirement, but he doesn't plan to ponder it again this offseason.
The veteran offensive tackle intends to play in 2018, he said on Monday. Veldheer has one season remaining on a five-year, $35 million contract he signed with the Cardinals as a marquee free agent in 2014. Veldheer, who will be 30 next season, has a base salary of $6.5 million in 2018.
"That stuff early in the year, I just had to sort through some stuff," Veldheer said. "When I came back to the guys, it was clear where I wanted to be. My mindset from there hasn't changed."
Veldheer switched to right tackle this season because of the emergence of former first-round pick D.J. Humphries at left tackle, and had his growing pains early on. Veldheer settled in after a few games, but then moved back to left tackle because Humphries was lost for the year due to a knee injury on Nov. 9.
Veldheer suffered a broken ankle four games later, which ended his season. Veldheer was sporting a cast and getting around on a scooter Monday, but said the break was clean and there shouldn't be too many hurdles on the road to recovery.
"The guys in the training room said it should be a pretty easy rehab to do," Veldheer said.
STANTON SAID KNEE INJURY IS A BONE BRUISE
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tweeted some surprising news on Sunday night after the season finale when he said quarterback Drew Stanton played the final two games with a torn ACL.
Stanton refuted that on Monday, referring to the injury as a bone bruise. Stanton said he won't need surgery on the injury.
"I'm not telling (Fitzgerald) any secrets, apparently," Stanton said. "No, my knee felt great, to be able to get back out there. That was the big thing, getting the bone bruise to be able to calm down."
Stanton is an impending free agent. He has spent the past five seasons with the Cardinals.
"I've enjoyed my time here," Stanton said. "If it's done, I'll look back on it with really fond memories. If it's not, then I'll come back and get to work."
FREE AGENTS AWAIT FATE
The Cardinals don't have as many key free agents as a season ago, but it's still a healthy list. General Manager Steve Keim must make critical decisions this offseason, and so will the players hitting the open market.
Tight end Troy Niklas was able to stay healthy for most of the season, which is a positive for the former second-round pick whose rookie contract expires in March.
"I had a lot of fun out there," said Niklas, who said he would love to return to the Cardinals. "Football's a really fun sport when you get to play. It's not fun when you stay on the sidelines. It was such a great year in that aspect. I had so much fun with the guys."
Safety Tyvon Branch was having a fantastic season but tore his ACL in November and is now facing a lengthy rehabilitation process. He is an unrestricted free agent after signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals in 2016.
"All you want to do is contribute, wherever you can," Branch said. "I felt like I was helping the team. To go down like that – you don't ever want to get hurt, but to go down like that, it was tough for me."
Cornerback Justin Bethel will become a free agent for the first time, and while he lost his starting cornerback job midway through the season, believes he acquitted himself pretty well.
"I didn't get to play as much as I wanted to or do everything I wanted to do but I think the time I did play I showed enough that I can play," Bethel said. "Obviously I gave up a couple passes here and there but I think I did enough to show I am a capable guy on defense, and then, I always will be good on special teams."
Images from the regular season finale in Seattle