The Arizona Cardinals rounded out Day 2 of free agency with three announced signings, re-signing outside linebacker Marcus Benard for a season and adding veterans Jonathan Dwyer, a running back, and Ted Larsen, an offensive lineman.
Dwyer signed for one season and Larsen for two.
Benard (6-2, 260) played in 12 games (one start) with the Cardinals in 2013 after joining the team on October 2 and had 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Prior to coming to Arizona, he played in 25 games (two starts) in three seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2009-2011) and had 11.5 sacks, 39 tackles (25 solo), and six special teams tackles.
Benard entered the league with Cleveland in 2009 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Jackson State. For his career, he has played in 37 games (three starts) and has 14 sacks, 55 tackles (36 solo), and one forced fumble. Benard was released by the Patriots following training camp last August.
Dwyer (5-11, 229) has played the past four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and appeared in 36 games with six starts, carrying the ball 230 times for 971 yards (4.2 yard avg.) and two touchdowns. He also had 27 receptions for 176 yards with Pittsburgh. A Marietta, GA native, Dwyer joined the Steelers as a sixth-round pick (188th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech.
The 24-year old Dwyer had his best season in 2012 where he set career highs and led the Steelers with 623 rushing yards and 106 receiving yards while starting in six games.
Larsen (6-2, 305) comes to Arizona after spending the past four seasons in Tampa Bay where he played in 60 games with 31 starts. During his time with the Buccaneers, Larsen started 11 games at center and 20 games at guard. In 2013, he played in all 16 games for the third consecutive season and made four starts, two at center and two at left guard.
He entered the NFL with the New England Patriots as a sixth-round pick (205th overall) in the 2010 NFL Draft out of N.C. State. The 26-year old Larsen was released by the Patriots following training camp as a rookie and claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers.
Benard was a restricted free agent that was not tendered, thus becoming an unrestricted free agent. He likely comes back for less than the qualifying tender the Cardinals could have given him.
The addition of Dwyer is something I expected -- not him -- but I always felt that the team needed and would sign a veteran running back. Bruce Arians is going to the Steelers well again -- Dwyer is good in short yardage situation and a solid pass protector. He gives Stepfan Taylor competition at the position and also makes it so that the team does not have to rely on a young, unproven player at a position where they have little experience.
Larsen, who has some starting experience and is versatile, will give some competition at guard and also depth. I foresee him as filling the Mike Gibson role of backup center with the ability to play guard. He could become the starter at right guard should Earl Watford not be ready to take over and, again, makes it so the team is dependent on young, unproven players.
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