On March 4th, 2010, the Arizona Cardinals released former first round draft pick, Antrel Rolle, in an effort to re-sign him to a price-efficient contract. On March 5th, Rolle signed with the New York Giants and shocked the Cardinals front office and their fans. Rolle was gone, and so was hope for the 2010 season.
To Cardinals' fans amazement, the front office didn't skip a beat and found Rolle's replacement on March 6th - Kerry Rhodes.
Rhodes was traded to the Cardinals in exchange for a 2010 5th round pick and a 7th round pick for next season. Just when the NFC West rivals were licking their chops in jubilation, their high-hopes were struck down like a dagger of lightening from above. Although Rolle was gone, Rhodes had arrived.
Since that time, the subject of whether or not Rhodes will be a better safety than Rolle has been highly debated. Most fans want to think that Rhodes is the better man, and that's the smart thing to do. Pessimism is frowned upon in this day and age of football. All fans believe their team will emerge victorious in the Super Bowl based the actions that took place during the offseason. That's one reason why draft grades are served often before they are ready.
Rhodes had a glorious start to his career, becoming a highly regarded safety and a Pro Bowl alternate for the Jets. He and shutdown corner Darrelle Revis became a force to be reckoned with in the secondary and appeared to be the future of the defense. Then Rex Ryan and his complex defense arrived. Rhodes was benched during the 2009 season and was labeled 'soft' after rumors of a potential modeling career changed his image to New York fans, who have notoriously been hard on players in the past. Kerry didn't fit the bill and was taken to the wood shed to be put down like an old dog.
Now he'll get a chance to return to his previous form in a defense that fits his style. He'll provide dependable over-the-top coverage with Adrian Wilson playing in the box. We can expect to see the hard-hitting style that he showcased before the Ryan-regime. Kerry also has pass rushing skills that will provide nightmares with he and Wilson blitzing off the edge. He possesses the hands to corral the ball if it's thrown his way, but he doesn't have the break-away speed and moves that we were accustomed to seeing with Rolle. If that's the only area that Kerry falls short, then where's the argument?
Rolle took two seasons to become the highest paid safety in league history. He was dynamic with the ball in his hands and every Cardinal fan grew with excitement every time it happened. The biggest knock on Rolle, however, were the countless times he was caught out of position, only to surrender a big play to opposing offenses. This occurred far too often, giving the coaches and fans headaches. But to his credit, Rolle was a team player, a solid tackler, and he could be relied on to suit up and play more often than not. Nevertheless, with a more dependable safety, albeit less of a playmaker, the Cardinals can focus on the task at hand - stopping the offense.