A.Q. Shipley‘s career with the Arizona Cardinals could come to an end if he fails to win back the club’s starting center job
Back in the summer of 2018, the front office of the Arizona Cardinals did something extremely classy. A.Q. Shipley, despite suffering a torn ACL just three weeks before, had a year added onto his contract. It was an act of generosity by Arizona that’s rarely seen in the world of professional sports.
Things change, however, and there’s now a possibility that the center may not be around to collect on that extension. There are reasons to believe that the Cards could move on from Shipley in 2019. Several factors that could persuade the organization to renege on the deal that they made with the veteran just 10 months ago.
For one, Mason Cole could end up retaining the starting job. The rookie filled in admirably for the former Penn State Nittany Lion last season, reacting well to the pressure situation he was thrown into as a 22-year old. Cole, incredibly, was the only Cardinal to be on the field for every snap in ’18.
The fact that Arizona drafted a center back in April could also hurt Shipley’s chances of remaining in the desert. Management selected Georgia’s Lamont Gaillard in the sixth round, and the team seems to be high on the newcomer. It would not be outlandish to think that the youngster could be the backup, instead of Shipley, if Cole remains the starter this coming fall.
Shipley’s future with the Cards could also come down to money. The 33-year old carries with him a salary cap hit of $1.379 million in ’19. By comparison, Cole will count a very reasonable $795,879 against the cap, and Gaillard has a hit of just $542,034.
As it stands now, it appears that Shipley and Cole will wage a training camp battle for the starting center spot. There’s a fairly good chance that Cole will emerge the winner. Would the Cardinals be willing to keep Shipley around as a second-teamer, despite the fact that he’d be making more than the starter?
Shipley may very well be fighting to prolong his NFL career this coming summer. Being beaten out by Cole could mean the end of the line for the 11th-year lineman. Whatever the result, the battle at center promises to be one of the most interesting clashes that this year’s training camp has to offer.