The list of the Cardinals’ own free agents is shrinking, which is what normally happens this close to the draft. Of the team’s original group of 16 unrestricted free agents (tackle Levi Brown was of course not on the original list, having been released and not technically a UFA), seven remain. Three were never going to return: linebacker Joey Porter, running back Chester Taylor and offensive lineman Pork Chop Womack. There is a still a chance safety Hamza Abdullah could come back even after the Cards signed James Sanders, and tackle Brandon Keith — given that the Cards haven’t added a tackle in free agency — is certainly still on the radar.
Then there are a pair of veteran defenders who helped on the field last season and were even more valuable in the locker room: linebacker Clark Haggans and defensive end Vonnie Holliday.
It’s tough not to think of Haggans these days because he was the one who all but lived at the facility year-round, working out every day. I have no doubt he is somewhere keeping in prime shape. It’s just not in the Cards’ weight room. He has moved past the point where you want him starting every game — this is the season O’Brien Schofield needs to take hold of that spot, across from Sam Acho, depending on who the Cards might draft — but Haggans still was and can be productive in a role on the field. Same goes for Holliday, who looked really good in the season finale when he got his most significant playing time of the season.
Again, the value to both comes as much off the field as on. I’ve mentioned this before but Holliday (and fellow vet DL Nick Eason) has the perfect temperament and attitude for what the Cards need him to be, a fill-in guy who can teach other players and be OK with that. Haggans played more last season but he too has been a good influence on the younger players. How could a guy who is constantly making sure he is prepared as possible not be?
Both players, however, fall into limbo at this point in their careers. A draft pick at either position could change a need to bring them back. Holliday hinted at retirement last year, although he said his thoughts right after the final game were that he’d want to return. I’m not sure anything gets done with either before the draft, but it’s not like you have to be worried about their commitment if you do bring them back.
Tags: Brandon Keith, Clark Haggans, Hamza Abdullah, James Sanders, Vonnie Holliday
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