Final cuts are always the deepest in the NFL.
The Cardinals finalized their 53-man roster this weekend but it didn't come at the expense of some unforeseen casualties. The final 53 is set for now but additional changes are on the horizon during the coming days.
The biggest issue surrounding the team was resolved, as quarterback Matt Leinart was released, ending the 2006 first-round pick’s roller-coaster affair with Arizona.
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt praised Leinart’s professionalism when informed of the decision and pointed out “a fresh start for him would be good for all of us.”
Leinart’s departure means the Cardinals will go into the regular season with two rookie signal callers, Max Hall and John Skelton, backing up starter Derek Anderson.
Leinart’s struggles in the preseason have been well-documented, but Hall and Skelton played into the decision as well. Whisenhunt felt both were talented enough that, if released, would be claimed by another team.
“Young quarterbacks in this league are hard to find, especially ones you are excited about,” said Whisenhunt.
The cuts continued as the team released the following players: LB Stevie Baggs, TE Anthony Becht, LB Monty Beisel, LB Cody Brown, DE Jeremy Clark, DE John Fletcher, CB Trevor Ford, WR Ed Gant, G/T Herman Johnson, WR Mike Jones, WR Onrea Jones, CB Justin Miller, G Jonathan Palmer, G/T Tom Pestock, FB Charles Scott, LB Mark Washington and WR Isaiah Williams.
Arizona also moved LB Gerald Hayes to the Physically-Unable-to Perform (PUP) List, making him ineligible for the first six weeks, but freeing up a roster spot. LB Chris Johnson and RB Alfonso Smith were waived-injured.
The biggest surprise might have been the release of veteran TE Anthony Becht, beaten out by rookie Jim Dray for the third tight end spot. Dray, a seventh-round pick from Stanford, made some plays in the preseason and his late charge sealed Becht’s fate.
The team also cut two of their 2009 draft picks, Cody Brown and Herman Johnson, after Brown failed to impress in game situations and Johnson came into training camp overweight. Both are considered strong candidates for the practice squad but should also receive interest for other team’s 53-man rosters.
While the squad is set at 53, the Cardinals are expected to scour the waiver wire to help fill out their roster. Presently, they have 11 defensive backs, only one reserve offensive tackle and just three active outside linebackers. Whisenhunt stressed the roster isn’t complete and it certainly looks to still need some work.
Follow Ryan Knowles on Twitter: @RyKno52
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