With free agency roughly around the corner, the Arizona Cardinals have already started making moves by extending tender offers to five key players, including wide receiver Steve Breaston. Keeping the team that has won the NFC West division in back-to-back years is key to the continued success in Arizona. Although the Cardinals won't make the biggest splash in free agency, they have added several contributors once the initial free agency period cooled off in years past. With the impending loss of Karlos Dansby, Anquan Boldin, and possibly Antrel Rolle, it's refreshing to hear that at least five other Cardinals should be returning to the team in 2010.
Steve Breaston, WR - 1st round tender($2.369 million) - Retaining Breaston for the 2010 season had to be the biggest priority for the Cardinals front office. Boldin may be on his way out and beyond Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals don't have a clear-cut second option. Breaston is entering his fourth season and has already seen a handful of starts in the league.
Deuce Lutui, OG - 2nd round tender($1.759 million) - With Mike Gandy leaving the team, the Cardinals will be left filling a void at tackle. Ken Whisenhunt has never shown the will to shuffle the offensive line so keeping Deuce Lutui was extremely important in the continuity of the offensive line. Deuce has gradually improved each year and could have played his best season so far in 2009.
Lyle Sendlein, OC - 2nd round tender($1.684 million) - We discussed the centers in our State of the Roster segment on Wednesday, declaring that the Cardinals would inevitably offer a tender to Sendlein. He's been a consistent cog in the Cardinals offense and has well out-played his expectations since signing with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2007.
Gabe Watson, DT - 2nd round tender($1.759 million) - Watson was an important member of the defense to retain with the soon-to-be 36-year old Bryan Robinson testing free agency. The Cardinals need Watson to fill his full potential and become a valuable starter on defense next season.
Ben Patrick, TE - 2nd round tender($1.684 million) - Keeping Ben Patrick around shouldn't be a surprise as the Cardinals aren't deep at tight end and haven't established a starter in years. Patrick missed some time last season after serving a four-game suspension to begin the year, but gradually made up for it with improved blocking along the offensive line. Patrick already has the hands, and if he can apply all of his sklls to the team in 2010 the offense will have one less hole to fill.
Free agency officialy bigins at 10:00 PM ET Thursday night but we should be hearing fairly soon about the release of Antrel Rolle. Don't expect the Cardinalt to make any immediate signings as they tend to take it easy the first couple days of free agency. Now that these five unrestricted free agenst are off the list, the Cardinals can focus on keeping the rest of the team together in the upcoming days.