Jay Feely (Getty)
All the current NFL chatter and hype is no doubt centered on this week’s draft. And while the soon to be draftees deserve such attention, it will probably be a good two or three years before most of them make a significant contribution in the league. So we take a look at the veterans that are new to the desert, and analyze their roles for the upcoming 2010 season.
The biggest addition to the Cardinals this offseason is veteran outside linebacker Joey Porter. Although he is 33, Porter still has the talent to be an effective pass rusher. With the departure of Chike Okeafor to free agency, Porter will assume the starting role opposite Clark Haggans.
Porter’s offseason run in with the police didn’t help his reputation with his new team. But he is hoping that will all be forgotten, and his on-field production will be the talk of the town. Porter has 27 sacks in the last two seasons, giving Arizona reason to believe he will aid its average pass rush.
The Cardinals landed another veteran defensive presence with addition of Kerry Rhodes. Shortly after the team cut Antrel Rolle, it traded for Rhodes, who spent the past five season with the Jets. Rhodes was successful as New York’s free safety, but he grew uncomfortable this past season under coach Rex Ryan. He had his starting spot taken from him and was ready to move on.
Rhodes is penciled in as Arizona’s starting free safety, and should work well alongside Adrian Wilson. But if for some reason he struggles, the Cardinals have 2009 third-rounder Rashad Johnson waiting in the wings.
The only other addition to the team’s defense was linebacker Paris Lenon. The nine-year veteran will add depth to a linebacker unit that will likely get help in the early rounds of the draft.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Cardinals signed quarterback Derek Anderson and guard Rex Hadnot. Anderson will be the backup to Matt Leinart. Anderson will push Leinart over the summer, but the starting spot is Leinart’s to lose. Anderson is nice safety net for Arizona. Having only one solid season as a starter in the league, Anderson is better suited as the No. 2 man.
Hadnot will enter his seventh year in the NFL with a good chance to start. The Cardinals are not content with the production of the O-line, and Hadnot will challenge Deuce Lutui and Reggie Wells for a starting guard spot. It should be one of the many intriguing battles during camp.
On special teams, Arizona replaced longtime Cardinal Neil Rackers with Jay Feely. These two are virtually the same guy, but Feely is a slight upgrade when it comes to pressure kicks.