The Arizona Cardinals have flopped in signing aging veteran free agents in the past. See Alan Faneca, Joey Porter, Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James. Sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle (Kurt Warner) but most times you don’t. You get an aging star trying to cash in with one last paycheck. I don’t see that being the case with John Abraham. Since he was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round in 2000, he has been one of my favorite players in the league. A hard-working, team-leading, quarterback-sacking badass. And even at the ripe old age of 35, I don’t see this as a guy coming to Arizona to cash in on one more paycheck and pick up some golf clubs. Abraham is the consummate professional; he gives it his all game in and game out and doesn’t take plays off.
He is the active career sacks leader for a reason, but sacks aren’t all he does. Abraham, as you will soon see, is someone who makes game-changing plays. He has 44 forced fumbles in his career, and if its not a sack it’s a hurry, a pressure or a knockdown. He’s just a guy that everyone will enjoy playing with and a guy you want in the trenches with you — a guy quarterbacks fear.
How much he has left at his age is yet to be determined, but based on his play last season, that tank isn’t even half-empty. With the Cardinals, he will be part of a linebacking corps that consists of a lot of new players — Karlos Dansby, Jasper Brinkley and Lorenzo Alexander — and they drafted Kevin Minter and Alex Okafor. So that’s a crowded position, but Abraham is too good to not be a contributor and earn his playing time. He had always been a down lineman as a defensive end until last season with Mike Nolan as defensive coordinator in Atlanta where he played in the 3-4. He will likely be out there on passing downs, but not dropping into coverage covering tight ends. But he is also a depth provider on the defensive front. So you may see him play both defensive end and linebacker.
The Cardinals may be thinking of him as a 40-45 snaps per game player, but if he does what he has always done, that number will go up. That the Cardinals got him on a two-year deal for around $6 million is a solid signing.
I can’t wait to watch him play.