Faneca Reunites with Whisenhunt, Grimm

The Arizona Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract on Tuesday with nine-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. After being released by the New York Jets, Faneca's arrival in the desert will likely send either Deuce Lutui or Reggie Wells to the sideline. Brad Wilbricht previews how the Cardinals' newest acquisition will affect things along the offensive line.

In a surprising turn of events from both perspectives, the Arizona Cardinals have signed nine-time Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca. Faneca was released just days ago by the New York Jets after spending just two years in the Big Apple. Despite cutting ties with Faneca, the Jets are still on the hook for $5.2 million this season. Faneca's deal in Arizona is good for one year and worth $2.5 million in guaranteed money. Assuming things work out, there's a good chance Faneca would remain with the Cardinals past 2010.

Faneca, entering his 13th NFL season, reunites with former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm during their tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Faneca helped define the Steelers' offense as a physical, run-oriented unit since being drafted by Pittsburgh in 1998. Faneca was part of the Steelers' 2004 Super Bowl winning squad that included both Whisenhunt and Grimm. The two coaches tried to lure Faneca to the desert following his departure from the Steel City in 2007, but he eventually agreed to terms with New York.


Levi Brown
(Getty)

Prior to Faneca's arrival, Arizona's offensive line was dominated by up-and-coming players. Former LT Mike Gandy was not brought back and former first-round pick Levi Brown will be taking over on the left side. Jeremy Bridges saw the field last season and is expected to compete for the right tackle position with Brandon Keith. The Cardinals' coaching staff likely has Faneca slotted in as a starter at one of the guard positions, leaving either Deuce Lutui or Reggie Wells on the outside looking in.

As of now, Faneca would more than likely take over at right guard due to that fact that incumbent starter Lutui has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender. Wells would remain at left guard with Lutui serving as a backup on the interior. If Lutui signs his tender in time to join minicamp, the roles could be reversed with Wells serving as a backup and Faneca sliding to left guard.

In addition to Faneca, Arizona also acquired the services of Rex Hadnot this offseason. Hadnot is a versatile player who can play both guard spots or center. Lyle Sendlein is still on the roster and remains a possibility to start in the middle of the Cardinals' offensive line. The abundance of players available in the trenches should make for intriguing positional battles heading into the season.


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com
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