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Strategy And Personnel

The Sports Xchange
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The club replaced cornerback Richard Marshall with former Steelers cornerback William Gay. Gay should be able to fill Marshall's role as a part-time starter, nickel contributor and special teams play.

Gay knows the Cardinals system, because it's basically the Steelers defense. He played for Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton in Pittsburgh.

The team also shored up a weakness by signing safety James Sanders to a one-year deal. Sanders is expected to be a backup to both strong safety Adrian Wilson and free safety Kerry Rhodes.

The Cardinals weren't particularly active in free agency and concentrated on re-signing many of their own players. Recent re-signings are: kicker Jay Feely, long snapper Mike Leach, receiver Early Doucet, linebacker Reggie Walker and offensive lineman D'Anthony Batiste.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Offensive tackle: This could become less of a priority should the Cardinals sign a free agent or two. The starters from last year, Levi Brown and Brandon Keith, are free agents. And even if they return, the team needs to look for an upgrade. With the 13th overall selection, they should be able to fill this need if they so choose.

2. Guard: Maybe Adam Snyder, signed as a free agent, can start on the right side. Or maybe the Cardinals move him to right tackle and draft a guard. They will have a shot at the draft's best guard, Stanford's David DeCastro, in the first round. He would be hard to pass up.

3. Defensive end/outside linebacker: The starters are young and talented but depth is a concern. The Cardinals have had trouble acquiring and developing outside linebackers and they need to flood the position. The team also needs to start bringing along a young defensive end.

MEDICAL WATCH
No updates.

FRANCHISE PLAYER
DE Calais Campbell (tendered at $10.605 million).

TRANSITION PLAYER
None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--S Hamza Abdullah is a decent special teams player who doesn't play much on defense. A solid backup who could return.

--OLB Clark Haggans is 35 and likely has lost his starting job to O'Brien Schofield. But Haggans is in good shape and could continue to mentor young players.

--DE Vonnie Holliday is 36 but performed well as a backup. He wants to play at least another year and the Cardinals might accommodate him. He's great with young players, too.

--RT Brandon Keith has struggled with injuries the last two seasons. He has athletic ability but hasn't been consistent. The team would like him back but want him to compete for the job.

--CB Joey Porter lost his starting job last season and then went on injured reserve with a knee injury. It looks like his career is over.

--RB Chester Taylor isn't expected back. The team already has Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith. There doesn't seem to be room for Taylor, 32.

--OG Floyd Womack spent the season on injured reserve and could be brought back. The team will look elsewhere for help first, however.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--QB Max Hall (not tendered as ERFA) spent last season on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury suffered during camp. There doesn't appear to be a spot for him on this team.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--S Rashad Johnson (tendered at $1.26M with third-round pick as compensation) finally produced at a consistent level in 2011. He doesn't project as a starter

--RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (tendered at $1.927M with second-round pick as compensation) is an excellent situational player who excels in the open field. He didn't produce as usual as a kick returner but that might have been due to the rule change. He will return.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--DE Ronald Talley was a part-time player with some pass-rush skills. The Cardinals are thin at defensive end, so Talley could get a roster spot again.

--DE Brandon Williams was a late-season addition, Williams likely will return but has an outside chance at making the roster.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--QB Richard Bartel: ERFA; terms unknown.

--T/G D'Anthony Batiste: UFA; $700,000/1 yr.

--OT Levi Brown: FA (had been released); $30M/5 yrs, $7M SB.

--WR Early Doucet: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--PK Jay Feely: UFA; $3M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

--CB A.J. Jefferson: Potential ERFA; terms unknown.

--LS Mike Leach: UFA; $3.5M/3 yrs, $500,000 SB.

--RB Alfonso Smith: ERFA; terms unknown.

--CB Greg Toler: RFA; tendered at $1.26M with fourth-round pick as compensation; $1.26M/1 yr.

--LB Reggie Walker: Not tendered as RFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--WR Stephen Williams: Potential ERFA; terms unknown.

--P Dave Zastudil: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--CB William Gay: UFA Steelers; $3.2M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

--S James Sanders: UFA Falcons; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--OG Adam Snyder: UFA 49ers; $17.5M/5 yrs.

PLAYERS LOST

--S Sean Considine: UFA Ravens; $890,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

--OG Rex Hadnot (released).

--OG Deuce Lutui: UFA Seahawks; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--CB Richard Marshall: UFA Dolphins; $16M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed.

--WR Chansi Stuckey (released).

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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