Cardinals Learning to Deal with Success

Once a perennial loser and laughing stock of the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals have recently reversed those fortunes. Arizona has enjoyed two consecutive winning seasons and playoff berths but is now experiencing the ramifications of its recent success. Several now former Cardinals have cashed in on lucrative contracts with new teams leaving Arizona searching for answers at multiple positions.

After two straight winning seasons and playoff berths, the Arizona Cardinals are learning to deal with success. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt knows the drill from his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers but this scenario is new territory for the Cardinals' front office. Recent defections such as Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle have left Arizona's roster short handed but the team is taking the appropriate actions to replace a handful of Pro Bowl caliber players.

The Cardinals immediately addressed the loss of Rolle by signing former New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes. Rhodes is a highly regarded player around the NFL but he found himself on the outside looking in once Rex Ryan took over has the Jets head coach. Despite his falling out with Ryan and New York, Rhodes accumulated 63 tackles and three interceptions in 2009. Furthermore, Rhodes has been extremely productive during his five-year career, totaling 417 tackles, 15 interceptions while adding nine sacks.

Calvin Pace
(AP Photo)

Karlos Dansby had been an integral part of Arizona's defense since he arrived in the desert but his price tag had grown too large for the Cardinals to afford. A comparable situation arrived two years ago with Calvin Pace, resulting in a similar result. Pace left Arizona in favor of the Jets, proving to be a fairly solid decision by the Cardinals' front office. Pace cashed in with a six-year, $42 million contract but has had an up and down tenure thus far in New York.

While Arizona has yet to address the loss of Boldin with an outside addition, there's a good chance the void could be filled from within. Fourth-year wideout Steve Breaston was tendered with a first-round draft pick, all but securing his status in the desert for at least one more season. Breaston proved his worth over the past three seasons as a favorite target for now retired QB Kurt Warner. Breaston is expected to jump into a starting role opposite of Larry Fitzgerald while Early Doucet settles in as a slot receiver previously occupied by Breaston.

In addition to the free-agent losses Arizona has incurred this offseason, the retirement of Warner, a likely Hall-of-Famer, will certainly have a major affect on the Cardinals' immediate future. However despite the loss, general manager Rod Graves has done an excellent job of assembling the necessary talent to pick up right where the previous tenure left off. Only time will tell if Graves' plan will pay off but the Cardinals seem to be making all the right moves at this point in time.

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