Just a few short seasons ago, the linebacker position was a glaring weakness for the Arizona Cardinals.
Star inside linebacker Karlos Dansby left the Cardinals via free agency after receiving a five-year, $63 million contract from the Miami Dolphins.
His partner on the inside, Gerald Hayes, was suffering from a lingering back injury, and wasn't sure if he would be ready by the time the season started.
Pile those on top of outside linebackers Chike Okeafor's (released) and Bertrand Berry's (retired) departure, and the Cardinals were left with Clark Haggans as their best linebacker on the roster heading into the 2010 offseason.
Fast forward to 2012, and the Cardinals have made some major strides in improving their linebacking corps. Clark Haggans, considered to be the Cardinals' best linebacker just a few seasons ago, signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals to fight for a starting job.
His production hasn't declined much at all, so why is he having to compete for a spot he was once guaranteed? The answer is simple: the Cardinals have improved at linebacker.
Paris Lenon is holding up strong at age 34, second and third year players Sam Acho and Daryl Washington are budding stars and Quan Sturdivant, O' Brien Schoffeld, Stewart Bradley and Quentin Groves will all join Haggans in competing for the final starting linebacker spot.
Clark Haggans is no longer a necessity, but he still brings a veteran presence to a position filled with young talent, and provides a safe option in case the unproven kids fail to live up to their potential. The Cardinals now boast one of the deepest linebacking corps in the league, and are a long way from the days when Clark Haggans was their best linebacker.
That's a pretty big improvement in two years if you ask me.
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