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NFL Free Agency: Should The Arizona Cardinals Go After Jared Gaither?

We are now on the third of the five tackles we will be looking at for this section of the free agency series. Before we look at our next athlete, let's update the poll results for Demetrius Bell. Even though Bell has an extensive injury history, 73% of you feel that the Cardinals should pursue him. He undeniably has quite a bit of talent, but will that be enough to justify a long-term guaranteed deal? Only time will tell.

Today, we look at a player that found his way into the NFL by strange means and has been around the league during his short tenure. Jared Gaither was taken in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Supplemental Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. After leaving as a free agent, Gaither has since played for both the Kansas City Chiefs and most recently, the San Diego Chargers.

He is now set to hit the free agent market yet again. Is he the answer to the problems that the Arizona Cardinals currently have at the tackle position? Let's find out after the jump.

First of all, it should be noted just how gigantic of a man Gaither truly is. He is listed a 6'9" tall and weighs approximately 350 pounds. With a height and weight advantage against basically anyone he is matched up against, Gaither is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

In 2011, Gaither played left tackle for both the Chiefs and the Chargers (although, he did line up differently at times while in Kansas City). He only played 26 snaps for Todd Haley and the Chiefs before being released and scooped up by the Chargers. This didn't make too much sense considering they had the worst right tackle in the league with Barry Richardson, but I digress.

With Marcus McNeill being forced to the sidelines for the final 7 games of the season, the Chargers were in desperate need of a competent left tackle in order to make a playoff push. Jared Gaither came in and provided everything they could have asked for and more. He played 317 snaps for the Bolts, 179 of them in pass protection.

During that time frame, Gaither gave up no sacks, no QB hits and just three quarterback pressures. Yeah, you read that correctly. So how is it that a guy with this much talent was allowed to leave Baltimore in the first place?

Much like Demetrius Bell, Gaither has dealt with injuries throughout his NFL career. While with the Ravens, Gaither was forced to the injured reserve list due to chronic back issues and a separate incident involving his neck/head in 2009. In fact, he missed the entire 2010 season because that injury. On top of the injuries, Gaither has reportedly had his fair share of attitude problems in the league. Reports came out that he not only refused to play right tackle, but that he lost weight as an act of defiance towards the team's wishes for him to play there.

The Chargers have shown strong interest in re-signing Gaither and making him the team's permanent left tackle. McNeill would not return in that scenario.

So should the Arizona Cardinals get in on the bidding war and go after the soon-to-be 26 year old? Given both his history with mental and physical problems, the team would certainly be taking a risk. If he were willing to play at either tackle spot, though, that could certainly help his value. Gaither is an immense talent and has the size to be one of the best tackles in the league, so this is an investment that the Cards should definitely look into making.

What do you think? Should the Arizona Cardinals pursue Jared Gaither? Tell us in the comments below and don't forget to vote in the poll.

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