A restricted free agent, Lutui waited until June 14 to sign his qualifying tender. It's a move Lutui had every right to make, and on the surface, it wasn't entirely illogical.
A four-year veteran, Lutui was one of 200 or so veterans who would have been unrestricted free agents this past offseason if not for the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. But in this uncapped season, a player needs six seasons to be an unrestricted free agent.
The Cardinals, like most teams, are watching the budget carefully, given that a lockout in 2011 is looming. Lutui wants a long-term deal but the Cardinals aren't going to give him one this season.
So Lutui declined to sign his tender until the last minute, presumably to make a point. The problem with Lutui's stance is the Cardinals made two offseason moves that jeopardize Lutui's starting position.
The signings of free agents Rex Hadnot and Alan Faneca give the club two more veteran guards. Faneca immediately moved into the starting lineup on the left side.
Reggie Wells, the former starting left guard, moved to right guard. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and line coach Russ Grimm would have no problem opening the season with that lineup.
General manager Rod Graves has said Lutui is still a part of the team's long-term plans. But there's no question that Lutui had better report to training camp in shape and ready to compete for his old job.
The Titans and Cardinals have tentative plans to practice once or twice against each other that week but it's doubtful much contact will be involved.
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