The Arizona Cardinals had several offensive woes they needed to address in the offseason. A core problem was that their average quarterbacks had little protection or time to make decisions. The Cardinals offensive line failed dismally, surrendering 58 sacks last season.
With the acquisition of veteran quarterback Carson Palmer, the Cardinals needed to ensure that he would be given enough time in the pocket. They released guard Adam Snyder, which freed up money to help address other areas if concern, and drafted Jonathan Cooper with the sixth pick in the draft.
The Cardinals still had to award the starting spot at the most important position on the line for the passing game: the left tackle. Nate Potter filled in for starter Levi Brown, who tore his triceps in preseason, but Potter was not very successful. The return of Levi Brown will definitely be an improvement. However, in sticking with Levi Brown, the Cardinals let other viable options at left tackle slip away, most recently Max Starks, who was visiting with the Cardinals before taking a deal with the San Diego Chargers.
Should the Cardinals regret not signing Starks and going with Brown?
An argument can certainly be made for both sides of the question. Brown, whom the Cardinals drafted fifth overall in 2007, is seen by many as a bust. No doubt he has struggled in his time with the Cardinals. However, in the second half of the 2011 season, Brown played extremely well, and there was hope he could continue to play at a high level until he was injured.
The other man, Starks, was a third-round pick in 2004 and was a functional starter and backup with the Steelers for a good period of time.
Neither of them are elite tackles, but between the two, Starks has had a better career as somewhat of a draft surprise, whereas Brown holds the reputation of a guy who never met his lofty expectations. The only drawback was that Starks wanted to be given starter money when he may not have started, and Levi Brown was signed to a five-year deal in 2012.
Ultimately, it is a choice between the familiar but inconsistent player who is coming off of a hot streak and an injury, or paying more for the solid veteran. It certainly wasn’t the make or break decision for the Cardinals, but they may have been better off going with Starks. It is hard to know how Brown will do, especially coming off of a year that he was incapacitated.
Brown could make a great comeback and be the valuable player the Cardinals always wanted, expected and needed him to be, but that isn’t something to gamble with lightly. In this situation, Starks was probably the more dependable option to help improve the Cardinals offensive line.