The news conference was held in Dallas for the Cowboys’ newest tackle, but Leonard Davis still had a few more things to say about his time on the Cardinals’ offensive line.
“There was a lot of criticism that went on that I didn’t feel was deserved, not just on me but as an offensive line,” Arizona’s former tackle said.
The truth of that statement can be debated. But the Cardinals have begun to reshape their underachieving line, signing free-agent center Al Johnson to a four-year contract Monday the day after Davis left to play in Dallas.
Financial terms were not disclosed, although by the sound of it — coach Ken Whisenhunt said free-agent deals have gotten “more involved and complicated” as lesser players have received big money — the Cardinals likely paid more than they expected for a player who did not start in 2006.
The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Johnson started 31 games for the Cowboys in 2004 and 2005, but was still considered undersized in Dallas and unable to handle big nose tackles against 3-4 alignments.
Coach Bill Parcells moved Andre Gurode into the starter’s role in 2006 and sent Johnson to the bench.
Nonetheless, Johnson is bigger than Cards’ incumbent starter Nick Leckey (6-3, 291) and while Whisenhunt said Leckey will compete with Johnson “to be fair” to the job Leckey did last season, it appears that Johnson will have an edge for the starting role.
Whisenhunt praised Johnson’s smarts and said he “fit the mold” for the type of player the Cardinals want.
How many more free agents the Cardinals will sign, however, is in question.
Whisenhunt emphasized the Cards were hopeful to get a couple more deals done over the next few days.
And while he praised every visitor who had come through, he sounded doubtful the Cards would be able to sign every one.
The Cardinals had a pair of free-agent defensive backs in for visits Monday: Rams cornerback Travis Fisher and Bengals safety Kevin Kaesviharn. Fisher had already visited the Redskins; Kaesviharn was on his way to visit New Orleans.
Previously, the Cards had hosted offensive lineman Mike Gandy, tight end Reggie Kelly (who visited Oakland Monday), cornerback Roderick Hood and restricted free agent fullback Vonta Leach.
The Cardinals do not have any visits scheduled for today.
To the fans concerned about the Cards’ slow start to free agency, Whisenhunt said, “I appreciate their patience.”
“Listen, as hard as it is on them, it’s hard on us, too, when you see all these people getting signed for some of the money they are getting,” Whisenhunt added.
“We said this going in, we are trying to establish the way we want to go about doing this and we weren’t going to be flashy.
“It was going to be what was the best fit for the organization.”
That’s why Johnson was targeted.
Bringing Johnson to Arizona was no surprise, given four assistants with Cowboys ties – offensive coordinator Todd Haley, running backs coach Maurice Carthon, tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens and receiver coach Richie Anderson – all know Johnson from his days in Dallas.
That, and the possibility of playing for offensive line coach Russ Grimm intrigued Johnson from the start.
“He has a great track record of coaching offensive linemen and what he has done with offensive lines as a whole, not just individuals,” Johnson said.
EXTRA POINT: Hood’s agent, George Mavrikes, said his client “loved” his visit to Arizona and that he expected to talk to the Cardinals again Monday evening about a possible contract.