NFL Free Agency: Is Jeff Backus The Answer For The Arizona Cardinals?

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 01: Jeff Backus #76 of the Detroit Lions stands on the sidelines against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York. Detroit won 16-6. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Since we have looked at all of the free agents for the Arizona Cardinals and decided on which ones the team should retain, we now shift our attention to the entire league. Thanks again to everyone who participated in the last series by voting in the polls and commenting. Good discussion is what makes these posts interesting.

Over the next month or so, we will look at each position that either needs a new starter or depth on the Arizona Cardinals roster and select five soon-to-be free agents from around the NFL that could come in and play a role on the team. First, we will begin with the tackle position (arguably the biggest hole on the roster) and work our way through each position of need.

Today, let's start with a veteran that has been in the league since 2001. Jeff Backus has played for the Detroit Lions for his entire career, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Could he come in and provide a stopgap at left tackle? Let's find out.

With Backus, the Cardinals would not only be getting a veteran that has seen probably every type of pass rusher that football has to offer, but they would also be getting a guy that is extremely durable. In fact, Backus has started every single regular season game the Lions have played since drafting him.

Last season, Backus saw 1126 snaps at left tackle, according to Pro Football Focus. This was one of the highest snap counts for any tackle in the league. He played on 98% of the total offensive snaps taken by the Lions and he was efficient both in the run and passing game.

The most telling stat is the amount of times Backus had to protect on passing plays. The Lions were a pass heavy team last season, especially after they lost Jahvid Best for the year due to concussion issues. Backus ended up playing 785 snaps as a pass blocker.

Although he started out slow, Backus saw a resurgence in the second half of the year. He allowed Matthew Stafford to be sacked seven times in 2011, but only one of those sacks came in the last 8 games, including no sacks given up in their playoff game against the Saints.

Backus may look to play out his career with the team that initially drafted him, but if the offer isn't sweet enough, he might look to move on. Does he have enough gas in the tank to last a few more years, given that he is already 34 years old and has played a lot of downs?

Obviously, we would prefer that the Cardinals draft a tackle prospect that can be there for the future. But if they decide to put off drafting a young talent for another year, I think Backus could be good for short term relief. He is a smart player and would be able to learn the plays rather quickly. Also, he would probably be an upgrade over Levi Brown, who might not be with the team next season anyhow.

What do you think? Should the Arizona Cardinals target Jeff Backus once free agency opens up next month? Give us your opinion in the comments section below and don't forget to vote in the poll.

We invite you to follow Revenge of the Birds on Twitter at @revengeofbirds and like us on Facebook. Also, follow me on Twitter at @TylerNickelASU.

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