The Arizona Cardinals announced yesterday that they have made 22 roster moves in order to get down to the 53-man limit for their team. Along with cutting plenty of undrafted free agents and waiving some injured players, there were a couple of moves that may have blindsided some.
Arizona released longtime veteran linebacker Clark Haggans as part of the process. Haggans signed a one-year deal to come back to the team this season, but it appears that he will need to find a new home.
For Cardinals fans, this move should hardly be surprising and, in fact, we should have seen it coming.
You may have caught my final 53 roster prediction post after the Cardinals lost to the Broncos on Thursday night. In it, I stated that I did not think Haggans was going to make the cut. Quentin Groves and Brandon Williams, two relatively young players, simply outperformed him in the preseason.
The team has been looking for a new identity at the pass rushing outside linebacker position. After starting the 2011 season with Haggans and Joey Porter as the starters, one thing became very apparent: they did not have the speed anymore. Porter was injured early on and Sam Acho did a more than sufficient job of filling his role. Haggans played out the season, but we knew something different had to be done -- and soon.
So when O'Brien Schofield was named the starter opposite of Acho for this season, it made sense to still bring back Haggans as a backup on a one year contract. It's always good to have a veteran presence on the team. But Haggans just didn't look right on the field. He looked sluggish coming off the edge and no longer could he drive past the hulking offensive tackles that the NFL has to offer.
It takes youth, speed and hunger to be a successful linebacker in Ray Horton's scheme. Haggans might have wanted to play still, but it just didn't seem like he had any gas left in the tank.
So for me, this cut wasn't very surprising. The writing was pretty much on the wall. And I have a feeling that it was for many of you, too.