Cardinals lose another defender as Kevin Minter reportedly signs with Bengals

The Arizona Cardinals ’ defensive exodus continued Saturday. After losing star defensive lineman Calais Campbell to the Jacksonville Jaguars ( on a four-year, $60 million deal ) and safety Tony Jefferson to the Baltimore Ravens ( four years, $34 million ) earlier in the 2017 free agency period, the Cardinals are now watching linebacker Kevin Minter leave as well. 

Per a report from ESPN.com, Minter is signing a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Network later reported that Minter’s contract is a one-year deal. 

Minter led all Cardinals linebackers in snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. He recorded 81 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes defensed while helping the Cardinals’ defense rank second in yards allowed, 14th in points allowed and third in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, which adjusts performance for down, distance, and opponent). 

In addition to Minter, Campbell and Jefferson, the Cardinals have also lost cornerback Marcus Cooper , safety D.J. Swearinger and pass-rusher Alex Okafor in free agency. They’ve seen 4,657 snaps walk out the door and their only defensive additions so far are former San Francisco 49ers safety Antoine Bethea and former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jarvis Jones . That’s ... not great. 

This is considered a deep draft for defensive line and secondary talent and Arizona has eight picks spread across the three days, but the Cards are unlikely to be able to replace the high-level talent of Campbell and Jefferson with those selections; they’re much more likely to get depth pieces. It should help that they will likely clean up in compensatory selections next year, but with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald possibly in their last go-round in 2017, that might be too late. Based on how this offseason has gone, it sure looks like the next era of the Cardinals franchise has arrived sooner than originally planned. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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