As NFL free agency is set to begin, there are a group of players that have a limited opportunity to move because they only have three years in the league. These players will be restricted free agents. Depending on the "tender" their 2010 teams offered them, if these players leave to a new team, that new team will have to compensate the old team with a draft pick commensurate with the tender.
The Arizona Cardinals have a few of these RFAs. Here is who they are with their tender.
- Receiver Early Doucet (third-round tender)
- Running back Tim Hightower (second-round tender)
- Offensive lineman Brandon Keith (second-round tender)
You can tell how much the team values both Hightower and Keith. Hightower was originally drafted in the fifth round. Keith was taken in the seventh round. I would expect all three of these players to return to the team. The Cardinals are very high on Keith. Expect to see him starting at right tackle again this year.
There were some players that could have been tendered but weren't, thus becoming unrestricted free agents. These players are cornerback Michael Adams, fullback Reagan Maui'a and defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema. This does not mean they will not be back in 2011; it means that the Cards did not want them back at the price of the tenders.
The one player of the three that would be a surprise return to me would be Maui'a, as Arizona used a draft pick to select fullback Anthony Sherman.