Arizona Cardinals have work cut out for them in free agency

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Every offseason is a busy one for an NFL franchise. There’s always turnover, whether it be in the front office, or on the coaching staff, or within the 53-man roster or practice squads themselves.

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of decisions to make regarding their current crop of free agents, which numbers 14:

CB Antonio Cromartie-UFA

OLB John Abraham-UFA

DT Dan Williams-UFA

LS Mike Leach-UFA

ILB Larry Foote-UFA

DT Tommy Kelly-UFA

G Paul Fanaika-UFA

RB Jonathan Dwyer-UFA

TE Rob Housler-UFA

OLB Marcus Benard-UFA

OLB Sam Acho-UFA

QB Ryan Lindley-RFA

DT Alameda Ta’amu-RFA

LT Bradley Sowell-RFA

*UFA-Unrestricted Free Agent

*RFA-Restricted Free Agent

An unrestricted free agent is one with an expired contract that has four or more accrued seasons of service. They are free to sign with any team. Teams are permitted to negotiate with agents of players who are UFA’s at 4:00 p.m., New York time, starting March 7. A contract can’t be struck until 4:00 p.m. on March 10.

A restricted free agent is one who’s completed three accrued seasons and their contract expires. Players are free to negotiate and sign an offer sheet with any team. The original team – in this case, the Cardinals – have the right of first refusal. Arizona can make an offer to an RFA on or before the first date of the restricted free agent signing period, which begins March 10. The deadline for RFA’s to sign offer sheets is April 24. The deadline for the prior club – i.e. the Cardinals – to exercise their Right of First Refusal to RFA’s is April 29.

An accrued season is when a player plays six or more regular season games on a team’s active/inactive, reserve-injured or “physically unable to perform” lists.

Cromartie, Williams, Leach, Foote, Kelly, Fanaika, Benard, Acho and Lindley were all key contributors for the Cardinals in 2014. Abraham suffered a concussion against the Chargers in Week One and spent the rest of the season on IR. Dwyer was allegedly involved in a domestic violence incident with his wife and was subsequently placed on the reserve-non football injury list, wiping out his season. Housler, Ta’amu and Sowell were used very sparingly this season.

As you can see, there are varying degrees of impact that these players made for the Cardinals in the 2014 season. Who stays and who goes is anyone’s guess at this point. Head coach Bruce Arians, general manager Steve Keim and team president Michael Bidwill have their work cut out for them.

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