Cardinals Use Newfound Cash to Restock Roster

It's not exactly a spending spree, but the Cardinals aren't sitting on the additional cap room created when receiver Larry Fitzgerald's contract was finalized -- finally. The Cardinals gained almost $9 million of space, which was greatly needed because they were down to the NFL equivalent of spare change, a few hundred grand.

They didn't immediately throw it out on the open market, partly because there is little left on those shelves. But then that was never the plan. General manager Rod Graves planned all along to use the additional room to re-sign the team's own free agents.

And the Cardinals moved quickly to do that. Receivers Ahmad Merritt and Jerheme Urban were brought back and they will be among the candidates to fill the No. 3 wideout spot.

Receiver Sean Morey re-signed after being released to help the team fit long snapper Nathan Hodel's deal under the cap. Defensive end/outside linebacker Joe Tafoya and defensive end Bo Schobel also re-signed.

The team needed to address its defensive depth. Only two weeks ago, they had 16 defensive players under contract.

The most significant signing this week, however, was the addition of former Steelers outside linebacker Clark Haggans, who inked a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

The Cardinals lost out on Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar, who ended up in Green Bay. Haggans didn't play well for the Steelers last year, and his sack numbers have dropped the past two years after collecting 10.5 in 2005.

But he's a savvy veteran who should help this team, provided he remains healthy. The Cardinals' pass rush suffered greatly last year when defensive end Bertrand Berry went out with an injury at mid-season.


--Quarterback Matt Leinart is working out at the team's facility and seems to be throwing with little pain. Leinart suffered a fractured left collarbone last year. His durability is a big question because he has suffered injuries in his first two years in the league.

--With Larry Fitzgerald's contract finished, GM Rod Graves likely will try to renew negotiations with the agent for inside linebacker Karlos Dansby soon. Dansby, the franchise player, has a tender of $8.065 million. He has yet to sign the tender.

--The starting offensive line likely will remain intact in 2008, barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance. Coaches overall were happy with the group's performance, although they are hoping that the right side - guard Deuce Lutui and Levi Brown - show normal development. Lutui is entering his third season and Brown his second.

--Coaches thought re-signing some veteran backup players was vitally important. They didn't want a big turnover this year. They were happy with the guys they had last year, and they didn't want to spend the entire offseason teaching a new system, as they did last year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We wanted Larry to be here, but ultimately it came down to Larry wanting to be here. Whenever you have a player of that caliber, who is that important to your team, it takes time to make sure you get it right. I think that's what was done." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt on the team's re-signing of receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

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