Arizona Cardinals may be cutting ties with pair of special teams stalwarts
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals could be on the verge of ending the club's association with longtime special-teamers Andy Lee and Aaron Brewer.
The Arizona Cardinals were absolutely thrilled back in September of 2017 when they were able to land one of professional football's best punters. Andy Lee, an established NFL mainstay, had been released just two days before by the Carolina Panthers. The Redbirds managed to sign the three-time Pro Bowler to a two-year contract, and Lee would become a stalwart with the franchise over the next six seasons.
If the recent actions by the Cards front office are any indication, the club may be on the verge of cutting ties with the 40-year-old Lee. This past Friday, the team's brass brought in two possible replacements (Matt Haack, Ty Long) for a tryout. Could either candidate be in play to take over the punting duties for Arizona this coming fall?
In addition to last week's auditions by Haack and Long, there's another punter in the mix who will also be vying for Lee's job. Nolan Cooney, a former undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University, currently occupies a spot on the Cardinals roster. The 26-year-old has not yet appeared in a game at the professional level, but the team's hierarchy obviously feels he has the potential to do so.
Lee became an unrestricted free agent back in March, and general manager Monti Ossenfort has put forth very little effort to re-sign the 19-year pro. There's a new regime in the desert, led by people who quite naturally have their own way of doing things. With each passing day, it's becoming more and more apparent that Lee isn't likely to be a part of the Cardinals' plan going forward.
Coincidentally, "Big Red" may also be moving on from another of the organization's longtime special-teamers. Aaron Brewer, one of the league's most reliable longsnappers, has been performing that duty for Arizona since 2016. Like Lee, the 32-year-old Brewer has yet to receive a contract offer from Ossenfort and his cohorts.
Actually, the odds of Brewer returning to the Cards are practically nil. At the present time, the team has not one, but two longsnappers on the current roster. Joe Fortunato agreed to a reserve-future contract with the squad back in January, and rookie Matt Hembrough inked a deal as an undrafted free agent with Arizona when the draft concluded back on April 29th.
Matt Prater and Ezekiel Turner, two of the Cardinals' core special-teams standouts, were signed to new deals. The same can't be said for Lee and Brewer, two incredibly dependable veterans who will likely be playing elsewhere when the regular-season gets underway in September.
Source: Cardinals bring in former ASU punter Matt Haack, 3 others for tryout by Tyler Drake, ArizonaSports.com