Cardinals defensive tackle Josh Mauro pressures Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in a game last month.
The Cardinals have a lot of their own free agents they want to re-sign, work that will be ongoing even after the free-agency period begins in early March.
One step, albeit small, was taken Thursday, when the team signed restricted-free-agent-to-be
defensive tackle Josh Mauro to a two-year contract.
Mauro quietly has emerged as an important piece of the Cardinals' defensive line rotation, starting 13 of his 15 games in 2016. He did not have a sack as he often came out on passing downs, but he had a career-best 42 tackles and piled up 13 tackles for loss.
Mauro was originally signed off the Steelers' practice squad in 2014.
He is the first of 22 free agents to re-sign. The Cardinals still have two players (kicker Chandler Catanzaro and tight end Darren Fells) scheduled to be restricted free agents, and another 19 unrestricted-free-agents-to-be.
Mauro wasn't the only defensive lineman with an expiring contract. There is key veteran Calais Campbell, who is coming off one of his best seasons, along with important locker room presence Frostee Rucker. The Cardinals' defensive line room never changed during the regular season, keeping the same nine all year -- Mauro, Campbell, Rucker, Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche, Ed Stinson, Xavier Williams and Olsen Pierre.
The Cardinals can re-sign any of their own free agents prior to the free-agent period beginning March 9.