Arizona Cardinals put finishing touch on the offensive line
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals entered the 2021 offseason with some openings on the offensive line. One of the spots, the right guard position, became available when incumbent starter J.R. Sweezy’s contract expired. Now, one week into free agency, the Cards front office has filled that vacancy.
It was announced on Monday that Arizona reached agreement with veteran Brian Winters on a one-year deal. It’s a solid move for a team that has put together a blocking unit that’s chock-full of playing experience.
Winters, a 6’4, 320 pounder, was a third-round draft pick of the New York Jets back in 2013. The Kent State University product stayed in the “Big Apple” for seven campaigns, and appeared in 89 games (79 starts) for “Gang Green.” After a shoulder injury cut short his 2019 season, New York parted ways with Winters in August of last year.
Four days after his release from the Jets, Winters was inked to a one-year contract by the Buffalo Bills. The Ohio native appeared in all 16 contests last fall, and registered nine starts for the Bills.
There was talk that second-year pro Josh Jones and veteran Justin Murray would compete for Big Red’s right guard gig during this summer’s training camp. However, both lineman appear to be better suited to play offensive tackle. Winters now becomes the clear-cut favorite to replace Sweezy, who has yet to find a new home.
As mentioned, Winters is joining a Cardinals offensive line that has been around the block a time or two. Left tackle D.J. Humphries has been credited with 59 starts, while left guard Justin Pugh has 101 under his belt. Newly-acquired Rodney Hudson has logged 127 starts in the league, while right tackle Kelvin Beachum has 115 on his NFL resume.
In related news, the Cards also added another offensive lineman this past Monday. Max Garcia, a former fourth-round draft selection of the Denver Broncos, signed a one-year contract and will provide depth for the Redbirds a both guard spots. Garcia flocked to the desert back in 2019, after spending the first four seasons of his career in the “Mile High City.”