Concerns at OT position weigh heavily on Cardinals

Posted March 07, 2012 @ 4:09 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

With Calais Campbell's franchise tag likely setting the table for a long-term deal in the not-too-distant future, daily team observers believe the Cardinals' primary focus has now shifted to three positions: quarterback, where we hear the prospect of Peyton Manning coming to the desert is far from being ruled out; cornerback, where the team anxiously waits to see what the free-agent market might bear for Richard Marshall (word is Marshall could have his share of suitors); and — last but certainly not least — offensive tackle, where the team can pick up a considerable chunk of money under the cap (up to nearly $17 million) by either releasing starting OLT Levi Brown or re-signing him at a more reasonable rate.

The financial ramifications involving Brown might make his status the team's biggest priority at the moment, and we continue to hear the Cardinals might have a serious interest in cutting a more manageable new deal with Brown, who some team insiders suspect could be headed back to right tackle, with the team possibly exploring new options at left tackle via free agency and the draft. Re-signing UFA Brandon Keith, the team's starting right tackle most of the last two seasons, remains a possibility, but we hear Keith has every intention of exploring the free-agent market, in addition to giving the Cardinals a couple of reasons to think twice about retaining him.

"He's just been really inconsistent," one team insider said of Keith. "He has shown some flashes, but there have been other times where he hasn't played well at all. He's also been hampered by injuries in both his years as a starter, and how much is left in his knees will be a factor."

Another reason the Cardinals might want to tackle their OT need first and foremost is the current lack of talent at the position behind Brown and Keith. "They really don't have much (depth) at all," the insider said. "They like (D'Anthony) Batiste a lot, but he might be better as a guard. He played really well there when (starting OLG Daryn) Colledge had a concussion. They also like D.J. Young, who was on the practice squad all of last year, but it would be a real stretch to say he could be ready to play this year."