Arizona Cardinals systematically erasing Bruce Arians era
By Jim Koch
The defection of various players from the Bruce Arians years signifies that a new era of Arizona Cardinals football has arrived
The Arizona Cardinals are looking much different these days. New head coach Steve Wilks and his staff are placing their imprint on the squad. Quite a few players who were brought in during the Bruce Arians era are walking out the door.
One of the bigger names from that time period who’s fled the scene is Tyrann Mathieu. The defensive back, who’s now a member of the Houston Texans, was still wanted, however. The Cardinals’ front office asked the “Honey Badger” to take a pay cut, but the sixth-year veteran was having no part of it.
Just a couple of years ago, the thought of John Brown not being a part of Arizona’s future wouldn’t have been a consideration. The speedy wide receiver was outstanding during his first two seasons (2014-15), but poor health has negatively impacted him since. The Cards apparently had no interest in re-signing Brown, who is now with the Baltimore Ravens.
Another wideout, Jaron Brown, also looked like he’d be around for a good amount of time. After extending the former undrafted free agent in November of 2016, management passed on bringing him back this offseason. The Cardinals will get to see Brown twice this year, however, due to the fact that the 6’2″, 205 pounder joined the Seattle Seahawks.
The Cards brass told us over and over again that Justin Bethel was a starting cornerback. Thank goodness that Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb are savvy enough to realize that the 27-year old is a liability in coverage. Bethel, a three-time Pro Bowl special teamer, has found a new home with the Atlanta Falcons.
Drew Stanton can best be described as a “teacher’s pet” of Arians. The backup (sometimes starting) quarterback arrived with the ex-coach in 2013, and now has left in the same year as well. The journeyman passer was signed by the Cleveland Browns last week to be the number-two signal-caller behind Tyrod Taylor.
Troy Niklas was taken early (second round) in the 2014 draft, despite the fact that the tight end position was underutilized in Arians’ offense. The Notre Dame University product’s usage became a moot point anyway, thanks to his inability to stay healthy. Niklas will be getting a fresh start with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, after being inked to a one-year contract.
Kareem Martin was selected one round after Niklas during the ’14 draft. The outside linebacker tallied 42 tackles, three and a half sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception in 56 appearances (14 starts) for Big Red. Those underwhelming numbers were ignored by the New York Giants, who handed Martin a three-year, $15 million contract.
Josh Mauro, a Cardinal for the past four campaigns, has also exited for the “Big Apple”. Both he and Martin will be playing for former Arizona defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who has taken the same post with the Giants. Mauro totalled 75 tackles, two sacks and four passes defensed as a member of the Cards’ defensive line since ’14.
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That’s a significant amount of members from the last regime that are now gone. It’s out with the old, in with the new down at Cardinals’ headquarters. Just how much those contributors will be missed is yet to be determined.