I keep hearing from people wanting to know if there is an update on Deuce Lutui’s situation. And the answer, curiously, is no — and that’s been the standard answer for weeks.
Kent Somers does a good job breaking down the situation, but ultimately, there is only speculation because real information isn’t coming from Lutui’s side. The facts are these: Lutui was given a tender offer of $1.759 million as a restricted free agent — and he was restricted only because of the collective bargaining agreement, and the onset of the uncapped year. Bad timing, but timing endured by a couple hundred of his fellow players around the league (including Gabe Watson). He was not offered a new contract by any other team during the time allotted for restricted free agents, meaning he was/is locked into being a Cardinal unless they want to get rid of him.
As of now, they don’t.
I assumed — incorrectly — he would have made his point and signed by minicamp. Now, with OTAs starting Tuesday, it’s clear he probably won’t be signing until the June 15 deadline, the one on which if he is still unsigned the Cards can lower their tender to less than $600,000 for 2010 and still keep his rights.
Kent made the point and it bears repeating: Once the Cards signed Alan Faneca, Deuce became a luxury. They still want him and I think they still think he can be part of their long-term plans, but short-term, if Lutui didn’t show up at all, the Cards are still fine on the offensive line. They have veterans, they have all the positions covered. If anything, those guys will have to fight for playing time — which is why it is odd Deuce hasn’t signed to try and get in his two cents.
I’ve had fans openly wonder about other reasons Lutui might not be in, besides his contract status. I can say, talking to Deuce the day after the season ended about his impending RFA status, he was deadly serious about his future and looking for a deal. Usually, Deuce is good for a smile, but in that case, it was clearly a serious topic for him. What does it all mean? Well, if he waits until June 15, OTAs will be over and the offseason strength and conditioning program will basically be over as well — meaning Lutui will have essentially skipped the offseason. That means he’ll have a lot to prove when he shows up to training camp.
In the end, he still may do just that, and be in the lineup when the Cards go to St. Louis Sept. 12. But, given the abundance of offensive linemen, his decision may undercut what he has built in his first four years here.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Deuce Lutui, Gabe Watson
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