Former Cardinal Rolle calls it quits

Posted by Darren Urban on November 7, 2016 – 2:55 pm

Antrel Rolle retired Monday, although the former Cardinals safety retired a lot like many players end up doing — the decision was pretty much made for him, with no interest out there. Rolle admitted on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football” spending the back half of the 2015 on injured reserve with the Chicago Bears and being 33 didn’t help his current status.

“I’m done,” Rolle said, adding, “I’m at total peace with that.”

Rolle — who left the Cardinals after the 2009 season, and more on that in a moment — was just in Arizona this summer attending the retirement press conference of fellow former Card Darnell Dockett. (That’s Rolle to the left in the photo below, talking to Adrian Wilson.) Wilson was already retired, and another former teammate who was there — Antonio Smith — sounded like he was considering it, although Smith ended up re-signing with the Texans after J.J. Watt got hurt.

Rolle’s five years with the Cardinals were interesting, as was his departure. Drafted eighth overall in 2005 to play cornerback for Dennis Green, Rolle eventually moved to safety — a position many assumed he’d eventually play even from the time he was drafted. He had a memorable game in 2007 in Cincinnati, returning two Carson Palmer interceptions for touchdowns and actually did it a third time only to have the score called back on a questionable roughing call post-pick on none other than Smith.

He was young and brash, like Dockett and Karlos Dansby, on a defense that wasn’t always consistent but that stood up during that 2008 Super Bowl run. His six-year rookie contract was bulky though, put together in a day long before rookie slotting. So coming into 2010, with a $4 million roster bonus due and an $8 million salary, the Cardinals — who tried and failed to get an extension done — released Rolle. He became part of the star-studded exodus that offseason (Kurt Warner, Dansby, Anquan Boldin as well) that shifted dramatically the Ken Whisenhunt era.

Rolle went on to get not only his big money (there was a similar offer from the Cards Rolle turned down) but big attention in New York with the Giants, making three Pro Bowls, making many headlines with his blunt talk on a weekly radio show, and winning a Super Bowl. It turned out to be a nice career. Although his stint in Arizona feels like a lifetime ago.


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15 Responses to “Former Cardinal Rolle calls it quits”

  1. By D on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    Rolle was a great athlete.

    Darren-do you expect Mr. Keim to sign any of the Cards forthcoming free agents during this season?

    My priority would be: C. Jones (will take more time)
    T. Jefferson, K. Minter, M. Cooper, A. Brewer, R. Quigley, A. Ellington, J. Brown, J. Gresham.
    I don’t think AZ will be able to bring back both Jones and Campbell, Nkemdiche will have to step up next year.

    My priority free agent signing next year would be: RG K. Zeitler, while drafting a QB in rounds 1 or 3 of the draft.

  2. By Darren Urban on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Re-signing guys

    I think they are trying with Jones, but it depends on the price. The franchise tag is available, of course.

    As for the others, there might be a smaller deal or two done. Part of the issue now is they have such little cap space with which to work. Jefferson in particular is in a position to cash in.

  3. By Scott H on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    I always liked Rolle. Just a very good player who had a knack for coming up with big plays in games that often turned out to be wins. Wasn’t happy when he left, but….it wasn’t on the same level as losing Boldin or Dansby. As stated, he went on to have a nice career. No shame in saying good bye at 33 after the career he had. Good for him.

  4. By Joseph Robinett on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    I recall that after the Super Bowl, Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle, were vocal about getting paid, but not vocal about helping their Cardinal teammates, for the following year, in obtaining the one that got away. So off they went….

    Adrian Wilson, Barry Sanders, and far few too many, have demonstrated an uncommon loyalty that stands the test of time. And as a result, they gain the collective’s admiration.

  5. By Scott H on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    Joseph –

    RE: Uncommon loyalty

    Let’s remember Pat Tillman as well. The man turned down millions from the Rams at one point to stay with the Cardinals for the league minimum. That is beyond un-common.

    Let’s also recognize Aeneas Williams who could have left sooner then he did. Because playing for the Cardinals really did mean something to him.

    Fitz already qualifies for this list as well. And, yes, he has been paid well by the Cardinals organization. But let’s also consider that at any point when his contract was due to be re-done, you KNOW there were other teams that may have been willing to pay more. Regardless, many players say they want to play their whole careers in the place where they started. VERY few ever do. Emmitt Smith didn’t. Peyton Manning didn’t. Joe Montana didn’t. Yes, and other factors were in play in those situations.

    But Fitz has long said he wants to retire as a Cardinal and it looks like he is going to. I do NOT believe he will ever wear another uniform. SB or not, I think he will step down as a Cardinal.

    The great thing is, we certainly have some great stories of uncommon loyalty.

  6. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    Antrel Rolle,

    I remember it well. 2005. the cardinals had just drafted Bryant Johnson, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. (2003-2004)

    So, coming into 2005, The cards had Josh McCown as the starter. He started 13 games in 2004 and had only 11 TDs with 10 Ints. It was obvious, McCown was not the guy.

    The cards come into the 2005 draft needing a QB.
    Many thought Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers will go 1 and 2. But when Smith goes number 1 to SF, the drop begins.

    Dolphins went with 34 year old Gus Ferrotte, Tampa went with Chris Simms, Cleveland went with 33 year old Dilfer, The redskins passed on Rodgers and went with Jason Campbell. The bears passed and drafted Kyle Orton. It was one of the craziest drafts.

    The cardinals were at number 8. It was amazing, but Aaron Rodgers had dropped to number 8. With Fitz, Boldin and Johnson, It seemed a perfect fit.

    The cards chose Antrel Rolle over Rodgers, along with guys like Demarcus Ware (#11). Rolle became a solid safety helping lead the cards to the playoffs and super bowl in 2008.

    Not taking Rodgers forced Denny Green to find a vet QB, and he went out and signed a vet QB who seemed done. Kurt Warner. In 2005, he looked like he was done. That lead to the Matt Leinart pick in 2006.

    What did Denny not see in Rodgers and he saw in Leinart? These decisions lead to Denny being fired and new coach Ken Whisenhunt turning to that vet again. Warner leads those cards to the superbowl, while Leinart becomes a bust.

    You got to wonder, what would have happened had Denny passed on Rolle and with the 8th pick, the cardinals take Aaron Rodgers? Does Denny take this team to the Superbowl? Kurt Warner never has his resurgence? Whiz is never hired?

    Very interesting.

  7. By clssylssy on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    Good luck to Antrel Rolle who will always be remembered a part of THE Cards Team that was 30 seconds from knocking on a SB win, and went on (like most) to find career success elsewhere. That group of guys were special, maybe not as good on paper as the team we have now, but, they got the job done and gave Cardinal fans some heart pounding moments that still resonate and keep us believing.
    Thanks for the memories and good luck Antrel!

  8. By dan on Nov 7, 2016 | Reply

    Have all of our games been sellouts?

  9. By TLT on Nov 8, 2016 | Reply

    Rolle was a good guy, knack for 2 things…making big play with dynamic return ..and for getting burnt deep, over and over. The latter is why he was not re-signed.

    aka “Toasted” Rolle as he was known in our section…

  10. By Joseph Robinett on Nov 8, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H,

    Pat Tillman is on the mountaintop, as that statue of him demonstrates… He was the example for Adrian Wilson and for an entire population…. When think of him, I feel encouraged to try harder in living a better life.

    … Aeneas and Fitz are two sterling examples, too

  11. By Scott H on Nov 8, 2016 | Reply

    Joseph –

    Amen, brother.

  12. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    Thanks for the reminder of that crazy drop of Rodgers. Thing is, another 15 teams passed on him after we did. And I haven’t gone back and studied all of those teams’ needs in detail but I’m sure at least a few of them could’ve used a QB.

    So as much as we can Monday-morning quarterback the decision, it’s hard to argue that passing on him was the wrong decision at the time. After all, if it was the wrong decision for the Cards to pass on him with the 8th pick, then surely it was an even worse decision for someone in the late teens or early 20’s (with a less valuable pick) to pass on him as well, and yet they did, too.

  13. By JTDG on Nov 9, 2016 | Reply


    Not trying to say we missed. Just pointing out it seemed like an obvious choice . But as I pointed out, teams were choosing Gus Ferotte and Kyle Orton over Rodgers, so yes a lot of teams missed badly.

    But I am actually thinking more about the effects of Rodgers being picked by the cards. What happens with Denny? Does the team become a Super Bowl contender? Does Warner never get a second chance? Does Farve stay with the Pack? On and on

    Interesting how one pick changes everything.

  14. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply

    JTDG —

    I hear you on that.

    I actually thought about that recently with respect to Seattle. If I recall, Wilson was a mid-3rd round pick, and the QB drafted ahead of him was Osweiler late in the 2nd round. (This was the draft where Luck/RGIII went 1-2 and your guy Tannehill was a few picks later, and someone else, I forgot who, was a first-round pick).

    Anyway, so back to Wilson… suppose, for sake of argument, the Broncos decide Wilson is a better QB than Osweiler, and they draft him. There’s no way he beats out Manning, so he becomes the backup. And who knows how that changes the Seahawks’ fortunes (and therefore our fortunes, playing them twice a year).

    Wilson fell into the perfect storm — a situation where there was not an established starter, so even though no one expected him to be THAT good, he got a shot from the beginning. Having to beat out Matt Flynn is a lot different from having to beat out Peyton (in fact, I don’t think he’d even been giving the chance to beat out Peyton; you’re just assumed to be the #2 guy, no matter how you perform). We would have no idea that Wilson was a legit NFL QB… until perhaps now, when he’d finally have gotten his shot, being out from under Manning.

    And if Wilson isn’t available when the Hawks pick, do they select Osweiler? Does someone else who liked Brock but not Wilson pick Brock before the Hawks, and then Seattle goes with another QB, or do they move away from a QB entirely with that pick? Would Matt Flynn have been the starter for a couple years, and how would that have worked out?

    And what if anyone other than the Patriots decides to draft Brady before the 6th round back in whatever year it was?

  15. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 10, 2016 | Reply


    Exactly why I love the draft.

    When you take a Wilson, Rodgers, or Prescott, you can change the fortunes of your team.

    FA can help, but a good draft pick can make you a different team.

    On the flip side, a team can take someone and hurt the player. You mention Tannehill. He entered in 2012 and every year he has had a new offensive coordinator, bad offensive lines and no running game. And even though he has 95 TDs and 17000 yds in 4 1/2 seasons, people want to know when he will get over the hump.

    Got to wonder if he was with the Packer or Patriot offenses(obviously without Rodgers and Brady) what he would have done. For that matter, he would have fit in perfect with what Whiz is doing with Rivers in SD.

    But back to the good picks, this is why I ride Keim and am not one who thinks everything he does comes up roses. Ex. How did he not trade down with the rams in 2013 (and yes, I said this before the draft) and drop to pick 16 and pick up another 2nd? Horrible move (i hear the trade was available to the cards). There you had Kyle Long, Eric Reid or Justin Pugh. Instead, we enter 2017, still looking for a RG again. There is just no excuse for that imo.

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