It was one of the most event-filled first days of free agency in recent Cardinals history but that's not to say it went well for Arizona. The Cardinals were anticipated to lose several big-name players on Friday and they didn't fall short of those expectations when rumors swirled around Cardinal-town all day. In the end, two big names were wearing different jerseys while another was inking a deal in a different city.
The first piece of action broke late Friday afternoon when the Cardinals announced they had traded disgruntled wide receiver Anquan Boldin and a 5th-round draft pick to the Baltimore Ravens for 3rd and 4th-round draft picks. The move is a tough blow to the Cardinals offense as they lose one of the currently longest tenured Cardinals and fan favorites in Boldin. It's not a surprise however - Boldin has been demanding a trade for the last three seasons and his request was granted early during the 2010 offseason. The 29-year old pro bowl wide receiver will be featured as the number one wide out on the depth chart and will join newly signed receiver Donte Stallworth.
The Cardinals will be gaining two greatly appreciated draft picks to fill needs on defense that were a high priority even before the trade ever took place. With them, they'll likely add depth at linebacker and defensive back.
Not long after Boldin was sent packing, linebacker Karlos Dansby was in Miami meeting with the Dolphins. Dansby has expressed his excitement for an uncapped year and was given the chance to test the open market after being given the franchise tag the previous two seasons. Dansby advised that he'd give the Cardinals a chance to match any offer but it was obvious Miami was in no interest of making a bidding war out of it. Miami awarded Dansby, making him the league's highest paid linebacker with a 5-year $43 million deal with $22 million guaranteed. Dansby leaves a gaping hole that is sure to be filled by Gerald Hayes and an unnamed inexperienced linebacker.
The other key Cardinal on the open market was free safety Antrel Rolle, who was released by the Cardinals on Thursday to avoid a $4 million roster bonus. Rolle met with the Bears later that night but eventually ruled them out and saw the New York Giants on Friday. Late Friday night, the deal was completed and Antrel Rolle was made the richest(5 years, $27 million) safety in NFL history - a deal the Cardinals would not match. Now that Rolle has left, the Cardinals are reportedly interested in signing former Steeler safety Ryan Clark.
March 5th, 2010 has proven to be one of the darkest days in Cardinals history but Cardinal fans should keep their head high as Ken Whisenhunt and the front office has had great success drafting stars and role players in the draft. The two additional picks give them eight total with a possible compensatory pick as well. The Cardinals may also turn around and trade the picks to draft higher if a player of interest is available. With two big names gone, the Cardinals can also focus on keeping current stars in Arizona happy(Darnell Dockett). What are your thoughts after day one?