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Cardinals release Chris Banjo to allow him to become Broncos’ assistant special teams coach

Banjo to reunite with former Saints’ head coach Sean Payton on Broncos’ coaching staff

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Earlier today, the Arizona Cardinals released impending free agent safety Chris Banjo.

It was initially believed that the Cardinals made this move to allow Banjo to get a head start in free agency but that turns out to not be the case.

According to 9News Colorado journalist Mike Klis, Banjo’s release allows for him to join the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff as their assistant special teams coach.

Banjo entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 2013. He began his rookie career with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013) but was released prior to the preseason. Banjo only needed one more team to give him a chance and he made the most of the next opportunity to turn what could have been a short stay in the NFL into a decade-long career.

The Green Bay Packers signed him soon after his release and he proceeded to play there for the next four seasons (2013-16). After that, he went to play for the New Orleans Saints (2016-18) and the Arizona Cardinals (2019-22) primarily on special teams. Banjo saw significant playing time on defense in 2020 due to an injury to starter Jalen Thompson. He set a career high in tackles (48) and starts (4) that season.

In his 10-year NFL career, Banjo played in 131 regular season games (7 starts). He had 143 career tackles, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery for a touchdown. The first and only touchdown of his NFL career just so happens to happen on the final year of his professional football playing career.

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images

In 10 playoff game appearances, he logged 180 special teams snaps and had five total tackles. Banjo played in two NFC Championship games in the 2014 (Packers @ Seahawks) and 2018 (Rams @ Saints) seasons.

Chris Banjo was one of the better special teams players in the NFL over the last decade.

Though Banjo has not officially announced his retirement from playing in the NFL, he will hang up the cleats for now as he gears up with a headset and clipboard as a coach in the 2023 season. Banjo will be reuniting with two of his former coaches in Sean Payton and Vance Joseph in Denver.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images