The suspicion among our sources in the desert is that the Cardinals didn't just pay nine-time Pro Bowl OG Alan Faneca $2.5 million guaranteed for the coming season to sit on the bench. "But he wouldn't just come in and start," one team insider told PFW just a few hours before the Cardinals actually struck a deal for Faneca's services. "He would have to compete." The early consensus, however, is that it won't be long before the 33-year-old Faneca, who played at a high level in Pittsburgh under the direction of current Cardinals assistant head coach/running-game coordinator/O-line coach Russ Grimm, replaces Reggie Wells as the starting left guard, the position Faneca has played most of his career.
We hear the Cardinals thought Wells, who is entering his contract year, had a supbar 2009 season, appearing not to be as agile as he had been in prior seasons. Even before the arrival of Faneca, Wells was looking at getting a serious run for his money from Rex Hadnot, another veteran free-agent addition, for the starting OLG job. But considering the team's increasingly shaky relationship with restricted free agent Deuce Lutui, who has yet to sign his qualifying offer and is irritating coaches by staying away from ongoing offseason conditioning workouts, we hear it's quite possible Wells could give Lutui a major push at right guard, even though, unlike Wells, Lutui, is coming off a very solid season.
"Deuce has a tendency to gain weight, and if he was at least at the facility, the team could monitor him," the insider said. "I'm not sure what's up with him. Maybe he's trying to make a point that he really wants a long-term deal and won't just re-sign (the tender) because he's a local kid. But 'Whiz' (head coach Ken Whisenhunt) is not a guy that you want to test."
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