TE Jerame Tuman (Michael Fabus/Getty)
Ken Whisenhunt likes free agency for the opportunity to quickly acquire veteran players. The Arizona Cardinals have been busy reshaping their roster on the fourth day of free agency, losing Calvin Pace and Keydrick Vincent while signing Travis LaBoy and Jerame Tuman. Cardinals expert Amberly Richardson recaps the flurry of activity.
The Arizona Cardinals landed their first free agent of the offseason in Jerame Tuman, a premier blocking tight end. The Pittsburgh Steelers released Tuman on Feb. 22. He reunites with Ken Whisenhunt in the desert after spending nine years in Pittsburgh. Last season, he exhausted all but six games on injured-reserve.
The move comes as a surprise because the Cardinals were heavily scouting younger tight ends at the NFL Combine. Whisenhunt puts a premium on blockers at the position and will count on a Tuman to get the job done.
Tuman will not be upset with the lack of receptions. His hands aren’t the most receptive, as he tallied only 43 catches in his nine-year career.
Whisenhunt gave an indication at the Combine that a move for a tight end was possible,although he stressed that he is comfortable with the progress of Leonard Pope, Troy Bienemann and Ben Patrick.
“I think it gives us a much better basis at that position going into this season," said Whisenhunt of the progress of his young players. "I think we know where we stand.”
He went on to say that the tight end position is a difficult one to fill. Whisenhunt likely had Tuman on the backburner.
Tuman’s signing discredits the rumors of a Lorenzo Neal visit, because Tuman basically fills the void of a fullback.
Jets Pay Pretty Penny to Pace
Calvin Pace came up huge in free agency. After the Miami Dolphins couldn’t come to terms with Pace, he agreed to a deal with the New York Jets. The six-year, $42 million contract makes Pace one of the highest paid linebackers in league history. The pact shells out a $20-million signing bonus and $22 million in total guarantees.
The contract comes after Pace produced a breakout season, tallying 98 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception, six pass breakups, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
After losing Pace, the Cardinals signed Travis LaBoy to a five-year, $22-million contract. LaBoy can fill Pace’s cleats immediately. The question is: how will LaBoy transition into the 3-4 defense after spending his first four NFL seasons as a defensive end in the 4-3 scheme?
Panthers Sign Vincent
The Cardinals lost Keydrick Vincent to the Carolina Panthers, who nabbed him for a two-year, $2-million deal. Vincent played in eight games for Arizona last season, starting one of them. Vincent was another of Whisenhunt’s Pittsburgh transplants.
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
The Cardinals signed exclusive rights free agent Troy Bienemann on Monday. Bienemann caught seven passes for 46 yards and a TD as a rookie last season. His roster spot is in serious jeopardy with the arrival of Tuman.
Whisenhunt Wise on Free Agency
Whisenhunt had the following to say about free agency as he embarks on his second offseason as a head coach:
“We’re never going to not be involved in free agency, but last year we had needs in a number of areas that we had to pursue in free agency because it was the quickest way to bring in established players to complete. This year, we felt a lot better about where we are as a team.”
“I’m not going to say we’re not going to have a big signing or go after somebody. You always have to keep those options open, but I think it gives us the flexibility to take our time and evaluate these kinds, instead of having the pressure to sign a number of guys early and be involved with competing with so many other teams.”
Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications.