Free-Agency Plans Look Good for the Arizona Cardinals

Jonathan CullenSenior Writer IMarch 15, 2013

Rashard Mendenhall will have another shot in Arizona.
Rashard Mendenhall will have another shot in Arizona.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

After having a quiet first day of free agency, the Arizona Cardinals have been one of the movers and shakers of the NFL free-agency period.

Looking at the first 48 hours, you have to like what you see if you are a Cardinals fan. The Cards have signed six players and still have visits scheduled.

The first move came with Rashard Mendenhall coming to the valley for a chance at becoming the primary back for the Cardinals. It is a low-risk move, but one that could payoff for Arizona.

Bringing in a 25-year-old running back who has had success in the league and might need a change of scenery is a solid move. If it doesn't work, Mendenhall will likely be gone with little fanfare.

The next player in was linebacker and special teams ace Lorenzo Alexander, who made the Pro Bowl last season. Alexander sounds like he is planning on playing more linebacker than he has in the past, making this an interesting signing.

Quarterback Drew Stanton's signing was somewhat expected over the past month, and it might finally bring some clarity to the Kevin Kolb situation. Stanton, for one, sounds like he is expecting to come to camp with an honest shot at the starting job.

New head coach Bruce Arians spent last season with Stanton while they were both with the Indianapolis Colts, giving both player and coach a good opportunity to assess if Stanton was a good fit with Arians.

According the Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, Kevin Kolb has rejected a pay cut and will likely be released by the Cardinals today before having to pay him a $2 million roster bonus.


Update: It's official, according to, Kolb is gone.

The next player brought to the desert is Jerraud Powers, who effectively replaces Greg Toler, who signed with the Colts. Powers is a four-year pro who spent last season with Arians in Indianapolis.

The 25-year-old Powers is three years younger then Toler, and his speed should be an asset for the Cards defense. He is slightly smaller than Toler, which may prove to be an issue with the taller wideouts in the NFC West.

The Cardinals also made the decision to bring in safety Yeremiah Bell and cut Kerry Rhodes, according to's Darren Urban. Bell had a solid season last year for the New York Jets while Rhodes had a good year for the Cards. Signing Bell and cutting Rhodes saves the Cards roughly $5 million.

The most recent signing was inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who was previously on the Minnesota Vikings. The 27-year-old Brinkley had 117 tackles last season and should really help rising star Daryl Washington in the middle of the Cards defense.

It is a good move, and combined with the other moves that Arizona has made so far, shows that the team has a definite plan in free agency and is committed to building depth.

The other good thing is that it doesn't look like the Cards are done yet. Matt Shaughnessey is due in for a visit today after the team hosted former Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason.

Looking at the work of general manager Steve Keim so far, you have to like what you see. The Cardinals are building depth with low-risk moves and without extending a lot of long-term money, allowing the team to remain extremely flexible now and in the future.

Arizona has gotten somewhat younger and slightly more athletic in free agency, whether it has greatly improved remains to be seen.

Given the $7.5 million the Cardinals saved by cutting Kevin Kolb today—and the fact that Arizona has been linked to Josh Cribbs and Brian Urlacher—other moves could be coming as soon as today.

Information used from Adam Schefter/ESPN,, Daniel Jeremiah/, Alex Marvez/Fox Sports, Arizona Sports, Mike Garafolo/USA Today, Mike Florio/Pro Football Talk, B/R's Tyler Conway, Vince Marotta/Arizona Sports