Nothing has changed in the last three months - Deuce Lutui is still not an Arizona Cardinal. We've heard as much as we could hear and for whatever reason, Lutui has not signed his one year tender to return to the team in 2010. Word coming out of Lutui-camp is that he's looking for a long-term contract. That's completely understandable but considering there were more restricted free agents than usual this offseason due to the CBA, the Cardinals couldn't guarantee every player long-term stability. You'd have to believe Lutui is falling out of the pecking order for a new contract, with other players like Darnell Dockett making efforts to workout this offseason.
Since Lutui hasn't signed his tender, he is not obligated to participate in the team's offseason programs. As a result, he's been the only player to miss all of the Cardinals offseason workouts and OTAs. Although there are no consequences, head coach Ken Whisenhunt takes the offseason workouts very seriously. Needs or not, Lutui can't be making a lasting impression with the coaching staff.
The Deuce Lutui Offseason Timeline
March 3rd - The Cardinals extend a 2nd-round tender to Lutui worth $1.759 million.
March 11th - The Cardinals sign free agent offensive guard Rex Hadnot to a three year, $9 million contract - a considerable amount of money for a backup.
April 15th - Lutui loses his right to receive any offers from other teams.
April 27th - The Cardinals sign free agent offensive guard Alan Faneca to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, forcing guard Reggie Wells to slide to the right guard position, formerly Lutui's.
June 1st - The Cardinals resubmit the one year, $1.759 tender to Lutui in hopes to resign him.
June 3rd - Lutui changes agents, going from Max Hannemann to Ken Harris.
June 15th - Lutui will need to sign his offer by this date or the Cardinals can drop the offer to a mere $588,000, a 10% raise from last season.
I'm not sure what to think about the situation. The Cardinals clearly addressed it by signing Hadnot and Faneca, and with Reggie Wells and Herman Johnson, they're perfectly fine at guard even without Lutui. Seeing how Faneca is already 33-years old and only signed to a one-year contract, not signing Lutui could pose problems for the team in 2011.
Most people believe Lutui will sign his tender before the June 15th deadline, but is it really a sure thing? The Cardinals don't want to add insult to injury, so lowering their offer wouldn't seem wise. After resubmitting the tender this month, I don't see the Cardinals withdrawing their offer either. I can very well see the offer staying on the table after the deadline and Deuce remaining out of camp through the preseason if he truly wanted to. The Cardinals aren't inclined to make any actions through that point and the only suffering would be from Lutui's side.
Here's how I look at the situation: Say you lose an item and assume it has been stolen. Although you have no evidence if the item was indeed stolen, you accuse someone based on your judgement of that person. You stand pat by your accusation despite that person's pleas of innocence. Not long after, it is discovered that the item was misplaced by yourself, much to the displeasure of your accuser. If you are stubborn, then you probably won't admit to that person you are wrong.
In this case, Deuce strongly believed he deserved a long-term deal even though the Cardinals were not going to offer one. Now that it's reached this point, it could be possible that Lutui doesn't want to change his original stance despite the fact that he has made zero progress. I'm not saying Deuce is a stubborn person, but this is just how I see the situation. We will, however, find out very soon how everything will pan out in the next couple of weeks.