Cards Visit With Free Agent LB Matt Stewart

GM Rod Graves is once again feeling that free-agent itch, and now he has the scratch to do something about it. The Cardinals brought in seven-year veteran linebacker Matt Stewart for a workout and physical on Tuesday. Stewart would compete for the inside 'backer spot opposite Gerald Hayes in the Cardinals' revamped 3-4 defense.

Matt Stewart (6'3", 239 pounds) could be the perfect fit for the inexperienced and undermanned Cardinals defense. Stewart is a savvy veteran with 291 tackles, eight sacks and seven pass breakups on his résumé. He spent the last three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, learning the 3-4 defense under Romeo Crennel.

Stewart, 28, missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. He started half of the Browns' games between 2005-06 after spending the first four years of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. During his Falcons career, Stewart started 44 of 48 games and averaged 58 tackles per season.

The Cardinals hope to land Stewart after missing out on several defensive free agents this offseason, including Brandon Chillar, Antwan Odom and Nate Jones.

Stewart would plug a massive hole on the Cardinals' depth chart. The team has fewer than 20 defenders on the roster for next season and needs reinforcements at linebacker after losing Calvin Pace and Darryl Blackstock in free agency.

Stewart would bring discipline to a team that accrued the fourth-most penalty yards in the league last season (881). He would also fortify a run defense that will need to improve to maintain its top-ten ranking, as running backs Julius Jones, T.J. Duckett and Deshaun Foster all joined the NFC West this offseason.

Notes from the Nest

The Cardinals re-signed wide receivers Ahmad Merritt and Sean Morey today. The Cardinals released Morey earlier this offseason for salary cap reasons when long snapper Nathan Hodel signed his new four-year contract. With Larry Fitzgerald's renegotiated contract now official, the Cardinals could afford to bring Morey back.

Morey followed Ken Whisenhunt to Arizona in 2007 after they were together with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2004-06. Morey's primary contributions come on special teams, although he added eight receptions for a career-high 131 yards last season.

Merritt, who was a restricted free agent, is looking for some traction in the NFL. The last time he played in a regular season game was with the Chicago Bears in 2003.


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