Who's The Right Guard?

Deuce Lutui put pen to paper Monday, signing his restricted free-agent tender offer. Had he not met the June 15 deadline, it could have cost him nearly a third of the tender offer. With his signature, Lutui's hopes of getting a long-term extension done this year ended. AZRedReport.com explains what he also may have lost during his holdout and examines who's the right guard for the job.

The Arizona Cardinals signed guard Deuce Lutui to a one-year contract with a price tag of about $1.8 million on Monday. The absence of Lutui through minicamp and OTAs is just one more change for the big guys up front. The line has undergone more changes this offseason than any other season since 2007.

Lutui played a big role in that era, just missing one start in three years. In 2009, the once penalty-prone USC product put his head down and went to work. He distanced himself from whistle blows and managed to get opponents caught in the crossfire. Most notably, Lutui took a knuckle sandwich from Bears DT Tommie Harris, which got Harris ejected from the game.

Teammate Lyle Sendlein said that was just Lutui doing his thing, getting people to play out of their norm.

Lutui hopes everything will go back to norm when training camp starts in July. But even with a solid season in the books, Lutui may have made a mountain out of a molehill. The Cardinals reportedly told Lutui's camp from the get-go that a long-term contract extension wasn't in the cards this offseason. During his absence, the line changed — a lot.

Major construction is still scheduled. The addition of Alan Faneca pushed Reggie Wells from his left-guard starting role. Wells, who had started in every game for the Cardinals since 2006, will compete with Lutui for playing time at right guard. Wells has filled in for the contract reluctant Lutui, and the veteran won't want to go anywhere. Count Rex Hadnot in for the battle as well. Seems there's a starter too many on Russ Grimm's O-line, which is by design.

The Cardinals coaching staff thinks Lutui plays best when he is being pushed for playing time. And, as the Cardinals make strides toward a balanced offensive attack, Lutui could corner the market with his knack for run blocking and his familiarity with QB Matt Leinart.


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