Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) reacts after having a pass broken up by Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson (24) at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Will Veteran Losses Hurt Team Chemistry?

Every year NFL teams go through a transition phase. The younger players have gotten better and need more playing time in order to take the next step in their growth as professional football players. Unfortunately, this playing time comes at the expense of the older veteran players that have their roles reduced or are let go and become free agents. The Cardinals are not exempt from this transition phase, and have lost a few veterans that will be missed on and off the field.
All-Pro strong safety Adrian Wilson has been a mainstay in the Cardinals defensive backfield for more than a decade. His tenure with the Cardinals ended this offseason because the Cardinals needed to create cap space and were unable to restructure Wilson’s contract. Wilson’s presence as a defensive captain and clubhouse leader is irreplaceable and time will tell how this loss affects the Cardinals as a team.
Todd Bowles was brought in as the new defensive coordinator and as the Cardinals transition to a new defense, there will not be as much responsibility put on the linebackers to make plays. The new defense, paired with the drafting of linebacker Kevin Minter is why the Cardinals chose not to re-sign veteran Paris Lenon. Lenon had lost a step on the field, but was a great presence in the locker room. As insurance the Cardinals signed former Cardinal Karlos Dansby, whom they hope can provide leadership and guidance to the younger players on defense.
The Cardinals lost other players including Kerry Rhodes, William Gay, Greg Toler, and Adam Snyder. All good players, but none that had the impact Wilson and Lenon had on and off the field. The good news is the Cardinals still have a good group of veteran leaders in Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, and Calais Campbell that will be imperative in providing a positive atmosphere in the locker room. Of course team chemistry won’t be an issue if the Cardinals are winning next year, as winning is the key to happiness in the NFL.

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