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Where Does Cardinals' Safety Kerry Rhodes Fit In The Defensive Secondary?

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We haven't talked about it much, since free agency has been a whirlwind in Cardinals town, but it's Friday and I'd like to talk about the Cardinals biggest offseason acquisition - Kerry Rhodes.

After the Cardinals released Antrel Rolle the day before free agency began, Rollewas off visiting other teams with the ambition to become paid very well, and very well paid he became. The New York Giants made Rolle the highest paid safety - not just in the league - but in league history. The next day the Cardinals stepped to the plate and dealt a 4th and 7th round pick for 2011 to the New York Jets for starting safety, Kerry Rhodes.

Rhodes enters an already talented secondary that is on the heals of becoming a dominant group. Rhodes has already shown flashes of dominance himself, when he burst on the scene his rookie season and recorded 105 tackles. For the last five seasons Rhodes has averaged 83.4 tackles a year, totaled 47 passes defense, 9 sacks, 6 forced fumbles and 16 interceptions. Rhodes also started 64 straight games to begin his career before last season.

There have been moments where Kerry has had his problems though. He recently took up modeling and most Jet fans believe it interfered with the hard-hitting style that Rhodes had adapted before then. This past season, he apparently couldn't learn Rex Ryan's defense until he was benched week 11. It could've been however, the wrong fit for Rhodes.

I asked lead blogger John B at Gang Green Nation what he thought of Rhodes:

At his best, Rhodes is a game changing safety. In 2006 and 2007, he played at a Pro Bowl level making plays as a blitzer and in coverage. He got a big contract before the 2008 season, and really wasn't the same. He stopped making plays, although he remained a very good cover safety.

He never really bought into Rex Ryan's scheme, which was something of a surprise. A ton of defenders improved markedly under Ryan. Kerry didn't. He was benched during a midseason stretch. He did plenty of talking, but his play never backed it up this past year.

He's a below average run defender and shies away from contact.

Overall, he's a very talented guy. I think you guys got a steal considering what you gave up. I think he'll be motivated with a new team and have a big year.

Next we'll look at the supporting cast and see where Rhodes can fit in... 

 

The supporting cast around Rhodes:

Adrian Wilson - The Leader: Wilson is the clear cut leader of the defense, let alone the secondary. He's also Billy Davis' interchangeable defender, dropping in coverage, defending the run, or rushing the passer. Wilson runs the secondary when he's on the field.As a side note, I'll be getting his jersey very soon since I had to retire my Boldin jersey. I can't wait...

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, The Playmaker: With Rolle now gone, DRC is the top playmaker of the defense. He'll lead the Cardinals in interceptions next year without a doubt, and is a threat to take one to the house every time. This past season Rodgers-Cromartie added a new weapon to his arsenal - forcing fumbles. He forced three last year.

Bryant McFadden, The Bulls eye: I'll admit that I considered putting Greg Toler here but nothing's official yet. I also didn't like labeling McFadden a bulls eye, but let's be honest, after what teams did to him in the playoffs last season, other teams will be doing the same next season.

So where does all of this leave Rhodes? He doesn't have the same ability to return interceptions for touchdowns like Rolle did, so you can't label him the playmaker of the defense. Adrian Wilson is here to stay and there's no chance he'll become the leader. Teams will be licking their chops for McFadden so I can't imagine Rhodes will become a target, and I sure hope not.

When it comes down to it, Rhodes label should be Mr. Dependable. He started his career starting every game for the first four years and only missed time last season because of a coaches decision to bench him. He's also known for being a better coverage defender then Rolle so I don't see him allowing as many big plays. When Sunday arrives, we can depend on Rhodes to show up and do his job. What are your thoughts on Rhodes and where does he fit in the secondary?