Cardinals Lose Turk to Texans

With the ink on Larry Fitzgerald's new contract dry, the Cardinals finally have money to spend. Now all they have to do is find someone willing to take it. Arizona brought in 13-year veteran punter Matt Turk for a visit on Tuesday, only to see him sign a two-year deal with the Houston Texans.

The Cardinals brought in free agent punter Matt Turk for a visit on Tuesday. Turk spent the 2007 season with the Houston Texans, averaging 41.7 yards per punt with a 37.9-yard net average. He landed 24 punts inside the 20-yard line while allowing only three to skip into the end zone. None of his punts were returned for touchdowns.

Apparently everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes punting statistics and player contracts. Turk reeled in a two-year, $2.35 million deal. Not bad for a 39-year-old specialist.

Arizona was hoping Turk could stop the punting carousel that haunted the team last season. The Cardinals released veteran Scott Player before to the final preseason game and signed Mike Barr to take his place. Barr had an up-and-down season before being cut in late November. The Cards signed veteran Mitch Berger for the remainder of the season.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt, who places a premium on field position, is determined to get more productivity from his punter in 2008. Neither Barr nor Berger ranked in the top-32 in terms of net average last season.

The Cardinals already addressed the position once this offseason, signing Dirk Johnson to a one-year deal. However, Johnson is a journeyman who only played in one game last season.

"Johnson was a good punter, not elite, but serviceable," said draft expert Chris Steuber, who covered the Philadelphia Eagles during Johnson's time with the team. "He had an above average leg and was a pretty efficient directional punter.

"He struggles punting into the wind and his leg strength is exploited. He's quick getting punts off, but doesn't achieve great hangtime. He had sports hernia surgery a few years back and that has hurt his leg strength."

Turk, meanwhile, is a proven commodity with a better gross average (42.4 to 41.7) and net average (37.5 to 36). Arizona could not go back to the open market to find more competition for Johnson. Drafting a punter late in the draft is also an option.

News from the Nest

The Cardinals signed exclusive rights free agents DB Michael Adams and WR Jamaica Rector to one-year deals on Tuesday. Adams finished last season with 10 tackles and one pass breakup. Rector played in two games but failed to catch a pass in his first year in Arizona. He spent the 2006 season with the Dallas Cowboys.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the network.

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