Edgerrin James is playing for the Cardinals in large part because of the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement.
Both coach Dennis Green and vice president of football operations Rod Graves had often insisted that the team frowned on spending a large chunk of money on one free agent. But that changed when teams were given an extra $7.5 million of cap space under the new labor deal.
“I don’t believe, under any other circumstance, there would have been a departure (from philosophy),” Graves said.
James’ 2006 salary cap number is $9.5 million, and between the team’s three free agent signings — guard Milford Brown and defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy were the others — the Cards have already used approximately $14 million of their available cap space.
They are believed to have at least another $3 million to $4 million to spend on free agency should they choose.
Graves said the team will “regroup” before signing any more players, although he said they weren’t done adding to the team.
Defensive backs Kenny Wright (Jaguars) and R.W. McQuarters (Lions) are expected to arrive in Arizona tonight. There was a feeling of accomplishment with the weekend of signings, beyond just the hype of James’ arrival.
Clancy, who was stuck behind Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense for five seasons, broke out for the Giants last season and parlayed that into his four-year, $8.1 million deal.
“It was time for me to move on,” Clancy said. “Arizona is a good place to be.”
Green liked the fact that Clancy, even after signing, repeatedly stressed his concern the Cardinals become winners.
That hunger was shared by Brown, who at this point is the Cards’ only move in trying to improve the offensive line. Green is hopeful that Brown, whose four-year deal is worth around $12 million, is primed to emerge as a solid player.
“I feel like I have something to prove,” Brown said. “You always have to play like you have a chip on your shoulder.”