See Exhibit A, the complex situation with DE/OLB Bert Berry. With three drafted pass-rushers complementing free-agent additions Bryan Robinson, Travis LaBoy, Clark Haggans and Matt Stewart, competition for the active roster will be at an all-time high heading into camp.
Hurting Berry's odds is the fact he's an awkward 'tweener who isn't agile enough to drop in coverage as an outside linebacker nor big enough to anchor at the point of attack as a 3-4 defensive lineman.
OT Levi Brown (left)
Berry is entering his 11th season and a contract year, so he must be aware the ax could fall at any time.
Unfortunately, his desert stats aren't going to help him, at least with staying in Arizona. His best season was his first year with the Cardinals in 2004, when he was a monster up front with 14.5 sacks. Since then, his production has dropped drastically, with his truncated 2007 campaign ending with just 2.5 sacks.
At 32 years old, his professional career seems to be nearing toward the end. A look back shows he didn't find his niche until his sixth year in the league, when he started in all 16 games for the Denver Broncos and earned a then career-high 11.5 sacks. The stellar season was enough for the Cardinals to toss him a big-money deal as a free agent.
The reason for the second-guessing four years later is Berry's inconsistent impact on the field. He struggles to stay healthy and isn't the overall player the Cardinals need going forward.
What he does offer, though, and what might keep him around until his contract expires, is the player-coach role he could take on with the rookies. Learning from a veteran is priceless.
On the subject of money, Berry's willingness to restructure his contract to alleviate cap space this offseason shows the Cardinals have broached the possibility of showing him the door, understandably a difficult task with such a class act.
Amberly Richardson is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a correspondent for Scout.com. She has contributed to the official Web sites of several NFL players for Sixthman Communications. Her analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports.