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Arizona Cardinals plush cap situation was never quite what it seemed

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals- Kliff Kingsbury Press Conference The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

When the offseason started the Arizona Cardinals had some of the highest salary cap space on paper in the league.

Then as the offseason started, many were surprised to see them play it safe and shop the bargain bins.

The reason the Arizona Cardinals biggest offseason splash was an inside linebacker who won’t make over $10 million a season was simply because on their money available was actually quite small.

Sure the number looked good when you ranked as having the 8th most salary cap space in the league.

The they re-signed Larry Fitzgerald.

They signed Robert Alford, Charles Clay and Brooks Reed. They traded for Marcus Gilbert and suddenly that plush bank account was right in the middle of the league and free agency started.

They didn’t make a splash, they stood back and let some deals get done, picked up a Terrell Suggs, J.R. Sweezy and Jordan Hicks.

They signed Kevin White, Josh Shaw and Darius Philon.

You see, $45 million in cap space is nothing when you have under 30 players on your roster.

You can’t make big moves. You can't swing for the fences.

You have to play it safe, take some small chances on older and broken players and hope they pan out.

It wasn’t that the Cardinals didn’t have money to spend… it was that they had to spend so much just to field a roster.

We’re not talking camp bodies, we’re not talking fringe final 53…

We’re talking 5-6 starters on offense and 5-6 starters on defense… then depth behind them.

Money goes fast in the NFL and the Cardinals proved that quickly.