The Arizona Cardinals released their first depth chart of the 2016-17 season on Monday, which came with very few surprises. Guys that have performed while at camp (which we have detailed here at RotB on a daily basis) found themselves higher up than guys coach Bruce Arians has been talking poorly of.
One such player is defensive lineman Corey Peters, who once again finds himself shelved, this time with plantar fasciitis. As you may recall, Peters missed all of the 2015 season with an Achilles tear. Thus far, Peters is entering his second season with the Cardinals and has yet to play a single regular season snap.
What I am getting at is that Peters isn't anywhere close to being a lock to make the roster, despite finding himself at the top of the depth chart. The team has good depth all along the defensive line. Peters is thought of as a potential three down nose tackle due to his abilities to rush the passer (something the team felt incumbent Dan Williams lacked, which is why he now plays for the Oakland Raiders), but they have other players that can fill a similar role, starting with rookie Robert Nkemdiche and second year player Rodney Gunter.
Both Gunter and Nkemdiche have positional versatility, able to play in a multitude of gaps. That isn't something Peters is known for doing. Also, Gunter showed he can be an every down player exclusively at the nose tackle position when Peters was out last year.
The Cardinals are dangerously close to the cap limit, but unfortunately for them, cutting Peters does little to alleviate that. His $1.75 million base salary became guaranteed back in March, meaning that he gets paid whether he's here or not. His dead money is just over $3 million, which makes it even more difficult for the team to release him at this juncture.
Still, if Peters misses the preseason due to these lingering foot issues, he could find himself as the odd man out. And if Gunter continues to progress in the way the coaches have faith in him to do, the team may just decide to move on from Peters completely to open a spot on the roster for someone more deserving.