Former Arizona Cardinals available for return to nest


There are several former Arizona Cardinals scheduled to become free agents in March who could help the team if they returned

When Arizona Cardinals’ management scours this offseason’s free agent lists, they’ll notice some familiar names. Players that were once a part of the organization and were welcomed into the family.

But as is the case with real-life families, members sometimes leave the nest. Some never to return. Some are welcomed back with open arms under the correct circumstances.

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin was a Cardinal, through and through. It was a sad day in 2010 when he was traded away to the Baltimore Ravens. It did turn out well for him though when he was able to obtain a Super Bowl ring with his new squad in February of 2013.

The wide receiver position, a strength of the club heading into 2016, has suddenly become a need. Boldin is a free agent, but at 36-years old his return only makes sense if quarterback Carson Palmer is definitely back in 2017. There’s no sense signing a veteran as old as Boldin if they are starting over with a young signal-caller.

The same goes for another former Cardinal scheduled for free agency. Inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, at 35, can still play and wouldn’t be a bad one-year replacement if Kevin Minter leaves. Having a couple of experienced veterans like Dansby and Boldin on a team making a Super Bowl run isn’t a bad idea.

Safety Rashad Johnson departed Arizona last offseason to sign for one year with the Tennessee Titans. Considered a defensive leader with the Cards, Johnson assumed a much smaller role with the Titans. But as far as the free agent being back with Big Red, it would most likely take the departures of Tony Jefferson and D.J.Swearinger for that to occur.

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Defensive end Alan Branch departed the organization following the 2010 campaign, and will also be available. The 32-year old has been an integral part of the New England Patriots’ defensive line the last two years. He isn’t at the level of Arizona’s own free agent defensive lineman, Calais Campbell, but would at least soften the blow a bit if Campbell split.

It appears that Chandler Jones isn’t going anywhere, so free agent outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander won’t be returning. But what a year the former special teams ace of the Cardinals had with the Buffalo Bills. He tallied 12.5 sacks, 76 tackles, six passes defensed and an interception, production the Cards could’ve used when he played for them.

The club once again needs help at cornerback this offseason. 2009 Arizona draftee Greg Toler will be available for hire, but probably wouldn’t be of much help. As a member of the Washington Redskins in ’16, Toler had his least productive year since his rookie campaign in the Valley.

Outside linebacker free agent Sam Acho’s two best seasons in the NFL were his first two in the league as a Cardinal. Since then he’s been mediocre at best, and like Toler, would be of little help to the Cards at this point in his career.

The return of former Cards to the organization is certainly an interesting concept. Some could actually help the team, but none of the aforementioned would catapult Arizona to a Super Bowl championship. Only time will tell if any “Prodigal Sons” make their way back home.