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Raiders OL Lands In Arizona
By BOB BAUM — Mar. 11, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals have landed their top priority in free agency — a left tackle.
A person with knowledge of the situation says the Cardinals and towering free agent Jared Veldheer have agreed on a five-year contract.
The deal is worth $35 million, with $17 million guaranteed, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the agreement has not been officially announced. The contract includes another $2.5 million tied to playing time.
The 6-foot-8, 320-pound lineman, entering his fifth NFL season, will be reunited with quarterback Carson Palmer. Veldheer blocked for Palmer when the two were together in Oakland.
Additionally, the Cardinals agreed to contracts with three of their free agents: a two-year deal for defensive end Frostee Rucker and one-year contracts for kicker Jay Feely and tight end Jake Ballard. The team also officially announced that left guard Daryn Colledge had been released.
The Cardinals made left tackle their free agent priority in what looks to be a greatly revamped offensive line.
Last season, the team traded left tackle Levi Brown — who since has been released — to the Pittsburgh Steelers and gave the job to inexperienced Bradley Sowell.
He was adequate as the line's performance improved as the season wore on, but the Cardinals obviously didn't believe he was ready to take the job long-term.
Veldheer, 26, missed the first 11 games last season with a torn triceps. He played in all 16 games in his first three seasons with Oakland.
The Raiders chose him in the third round of the 2010 draft out of NCAA Division II Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Oakland reportedly had considered using the franchise tag on Veldheer but instead chose to let him go.
With the release of Colledge, the Cardinals could have two new guards. One of them, 2013 first-round draft pick Jonathan Cooper, missed all of last season with a broken leg. The leading candidate for the other guard spot is Earl Watford, a fourth-round draft pick last season.
If Arizona doesn't re-sign free agent right tackle Eric Winston, the lone returnee on the offensive line would be center Lyle Sendlein.
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