Justin Pugh takes pay cut to remain with Arizona Cardinals

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 20: Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals in action against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 20, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 20: Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals in action against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on October 20, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /
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Justin Pugh must really enjoy being a member of the Arizona Cardinals. The starting left guard’s status with the organization was somewhat in danger, thanks to an $11.1 million salary-cap hit he was carrying for the upcoming season. On Tuesday, Pugh put any doubts about his remaining with the Cards to rest.

The 30-year old Pugh agreed to a flat-out pay cut that will help the franchise recoup some badly-needed cap space. It’s a move by the veteran blocker that’s bound to be frowned upon by the NFL Players Association. Obviously, that’s something that Pugh isn’t too concerned about.

“To clarify I restructured my contract and took a pay cut to stay with the Cardinals,” Pugh revealed on Twitter. “I love Arizona and want to finish my career here. Now let’s go win a ring.”

The fact of the matter is, Pugh could very well be part of a special offensive line in the desert this fall. A trade brought Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson to the Cards, while free agency delivered rugged right guard Brian Winters to the mix. Left tackle D.J. Humphries is coming off of an outstanding 2020 campaign, while solid right tackle Kelvin Beachum is returning for another year with the Redbirds.

This past Monday, Arizona’s Steve Keim indicated that he very much wanted Pugh to be a part of that talented contingent of blockers. “I do see Justin as our left guard and I think he had one of his best seasons as a pro last year,” the general manager told reporters. “I’m really excited about what he did for us on the field.”

Pugh entered the league back in 2013 as a first-round draft pick (19th-overall) of the New York Giants. The 6’5, 311 pounder left the “Big Apple” back in 2018 after he was offered a five-year, $45 million by the Cardinals. Pugh’s restructuring will reduce his salary-cap hit by $4.2 million, money the front office can potentially use to add a cornerback or tight end to the team’s roster in the coming weeks.