Free Agent Playing Time Projections: Defense

The Cardinals vastly upgraded their defense this offseason with key free-agent acquisitions. Only time will tell if the additions will payoff, but many newcomers are in line to play a critical role for the Arizona defense. Brad Wilbricht breaks down which free agents will make the biggest impact in this exclusive.

Acquiring free-agent DE/OLB Travis LaBoy was the arguably the Cardinals most important offseason move. LaBoy will help fill the void left by Calvin Pace, who left for a lucrative contract with the New York Jets. LaBoy and Pace share many similar characteristics. Both players are converted defensive ends and are best suited for the 3-4 scheme. Like Pace, LaBoy lacks the necessary size and strength to hold up as a defensive end in the 4-3 defense.

LaBoy displays natural pass-rushing skills coming off the edge. He has an excellent closing bust and is relentless in pursuit of the quarterback. LaBoy lacks proper technique in all areas, but should benefit from working with Cardinals linebacker coach Bill Davis. LaBoy will be a main fixture of the Cardinals pass rush and will likely receive the most playing time of the defensive newcomers.

LB Clark Haggans
(AP Photo)

LB Clark Haggans is one of multiple former Pittsburgh Steelers to join head coach Ken Whisenhunt in the desert. Haggans will likely be used 0n a situational basis, but will have plenty of opportunities to contribute. Haggans possesses an ideal build for an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. He's demonstrated outstanding pass-rushing skills, racking up 32.5 sacks during his seven-year tenure in the Steel City. Haggans' ability to rush the passer will be well utilized in Clancy Pendergast's aggressive defensive scheme.

Yet another new face amongst the Cardinals line backing corps is former Cleveland Browns LB Matt Stewart. Stewart, a six-year NFL veteran, is an extremely experienced and intelligent player. He exhibits a tremendous work-ethic and should help provide leadership to a relatively young Cardinals defense. While Stewart lacks ideal size and speed, he compensates with tremendous awareness. He's another veteran of the 3-4 defense and excels in zone coverage as a linebacker.

The lone free-agent addition along the defensive line is former Cincinnati Bengals DT Bryan Robinson. Robinson is another veteran that should provide leadership in the Cardinals locker room. While his abilities have diminished on the field, he still provides great depth and versatility. Robinson can play all positions on the defensive line and has vast experience playing in the 3-4 defense. While Robinson still flashes the ability to rush the passer, his main contributions in Arizona will come in run defense.

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