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Arizona Cardinals offseason: Looking at the offensive line

We continue our look at each position group.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In our look back and a look forward at each position group, we wrap up the offensive side of the ball with the offensive line. Let's get started.

The roster:


Bobby Massie: Signed through 2015
Jared Veldheer: Signed through 2018
Bradley Sowell: Will be a restricted free agent
Tavon Rooks: Future contract for 2015
Cameron Bradfield: Future contract for 2015
Kevin Palmer: Future contract for 2015


Jonathan Cooper: Signed through 2016, with team option for 2017
Ted Larsen: Signed through 2015
Earl Watford: Signed through 2016
Anthony Steen: Signed through 2016
Paul Fanaika: Will be an unrestricted free agent
John Fullington: Signed to future contract for 2015


Lyle Sendlein: Signed through 2015

Looking back at 2013:

The offensive line play was a mixed bag. A general observation says there was good tackle play and below overage to bad interior line play.

Pass protection improved dramatically. Arizona quarterbacks were sacked only 28 times. That is down from 41 in 2013 and 58 in 2012. That is where the tackle play solidified things. Jared Veldheer played at a level worthy of the Pro Bowl. According to Pro Football Focus, he only allowed one sack and four QB hits all season. Massie was overall very good, but did have struggles with speedy pass rushers. He allowed seven sacks.

However, the run game was abysmal. The team averaged 3.3 yards per carry and only gained just over 1300 yards on the ground as a team -- second to last in the league. That was less than three individual running backs gained.

The season was marked by waiting on Jonathan Cooper. He was expected to come back from his broken leg, step in and dominate. He was slow to recover and then suffered turf toe in the preseason. He lost his job to Ted Larsen. The question week after week was whether Cooper would crack the lineup. The answer was no. And he didn't, except when Paul Fanaika got hurt. Cooper played well, improving the running game, but sometimes looked lost in pass protection. He wasn't bad.

Unfortunately, he got hurt again, breaking/spraining his wrist. We don't know if he would have kept Larsen on the bench.

Larsen struggled at left guard most the season. Paul Fanaika had issues at right guard. Lyle Sendlein wasn't great. However, when Larsen was at right guard, he was better.

Looking forward:

Aside from Fanaika and Sowell hitting free agency, there is nothing changing. It is possible they bring back Sowell, but based on the three tackles brought in on future contracts, that should signal the end. Fanaika probably will not be re-signed.

There is one contract to think about. Sendlein enters the final year of his deal and has a cap hit of $4.27 million. The team could save over $3 million in cap space by releasing him.

The team also has some flexibility at the position if they want to move on from Sendlein. Of course, Sendlein is a leader on the line. He is well respected, so moving on might not be a popular thing in the locker room.

But Arizona already has two players who could fill the role.

Let's assume Cooper takes over at left guard. Ted Larsen could play center and then Earl Watford and Antony Steen could battle for the right guard spot. Likewise, Steen could end up playing center and Larsen and Watford could battle at right guard.

I have heard the team likes what they see in Steen and he is listed at both positions. He was a natural center at Alabama, but was moved to guard. Whether he is in their plans for 2015 or beyond remains to be seen.

The tackle positions appear to be set, although the team will need to think about the future of right tackle with Massie entering the final year of his contract,

Free agency:

Arizona made their big play last offseason, landing Veldheer. They will not likely be a major player in free agency. Look for a depth guy like Larsen was expected to be. Here are the linemen who are due to be free agents.

NFL Draft:

After drafting two linemen in 2013 and none in 2014, the 2015 draft should bring at least more. While Veldheer is set and Massie is solid, they will look at the future of the tackle position. Unless they are sold on Steen, a center is a real possibility. Would I expect a tackle, guard and center to be drafted? No. But I think two linemen would seem a likely scenario.