The Cardinals signed CFL punter Richie Leone, here punting in the East-West Shrine Game after his college career at Houston.
Punting, which became a subject of scrutiny all through the 2016 season for the Cardinals, will remain so as the offseason begins for the team.
The Cardinals signed former Canadian Football League punter Richie Leone Thursday to a "future" contract, and he will compete with incumbent Matt Wile – who was signed late in the season to replace Drew Butler – for the job in 2017.
The Cardinals also signed veteran wide receiver Aaron Dobson, a former second-round pick of the New England
Patriots. Dobson spent three seasons with the Patriots before being released in preseason this year. He briefly spent time with the Lions as well.
Leone, a University of Houston product, kicked and punted for the BC Lions the past two years. He led the CFL in punting last season with a 49.3-yard average. He averaged 49.5 yards his first CFL season, with a net of 40.9 yards. Leone has spent time with the Ravens and Steelers.
In three games with the Cardinals, Wile averaged 43.7 yards per punt.
The Cards started the season with Butler as punter. When he was hurt early in the season, he was replaced by Ryan Quigley, and then later brought back. Both Butler and Quigley struggled with consistency. Wile punted against the Cardinals for the Falcons as a one-game fill-in, impressing them enough to sign him late in the season.
"Hopefully I'll be here a long time," Wile said the day after the season.
He'll have to battle Leone now. One of the reasons Butler was kept for so long was his ability to hold for kicker Chandler Catanzaro – it delayed Wile's debut a week. Wile said he has practiced holding for "a long time now" but had never had the need to do it until he came to the Cardinals.
Catanzaro is a restricted free-agent-to-be and it is possible the Cardinals bring in a kicker to compete with Catanzaro, who is expected to return.
Dobson has 53 career receptions for 698 yards and four touchdowns in 24 games. He'll join a receiving corps that aside from Larry Fitzgerald -- who still has to decide if he wants to play in 2017 -- had an up-and-down season in 2016. Jaron Brown is coming off an ACL tear and John Brown is still trying to figure out how to manage his sickle-cell issue, although J.J. Nelson emerged as a dynamic playmaker later in the year.