When the Arizona Cardinals drafted Levi Brown fifth overall in 2007, the thought was they were getting their left tackle of both the present and future.
Seven years and a handful of tackles later, the team is trying again to fill that role.
The team has reportedly agreed to terms with Raider Jared Veldheer, bringing the 26-year-old to Arizona after four seasons in Oakland. He’ll be 27 when the regular season starts, making him a player just entering his prime.
In fact, the only real question about Veldheer is if he’s recovered from a torn triceps suffered during the 2013 preseason. It limited him to just the last five games of the season, in which he didn’t play particularly well in allowing one sack and 13 QB hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
But before that? According to the site, he allowed five sacks, three hits and 25 hurries in 1,107 snaps in 2012, and four sacks, three hits and 28 hurries over 1,097 snaps in 2011.
In total, he’s allowed 18 sacks sacks since 2010, his rookie season.
For comparison’s sake, in 842 snaps last season Bradley Sowell was charged with seven sacks, 12 hits and 40 hurries, and in 2011, which was his last full season as a starter in Arizona, Levi Brown allowed 11 sacks, five hits and 40 hurries in 1,041 snaps.
The site notes that before his injury Veldheer was not only good, but perhaps on the verge of entering the “top tier” of NFL left tackles.
When was the last time the Cardinals had an offensive lineman, let alone a left tackle, who was considered to be that good? It’s a safe bet that Cardinals QB Carson Palmer, who had Veldheer protecting his blind side while in Oakland, is pleased with the signing.
According to reports, the deal is for five years and $35 million, with a $6.25 million signing bonus and a total of $10.5 million guaranteed. It’s a contract that falls well short of what the Miami Dolphins paid Branden Albert and Baltimore Ravens gave Eugene Monroe, and it comes in at less than the Raiders surrendered to land Rodger Saffold.
On the surface it would appear general manager Steve Keim and the Cardinals got a steal in the 6-foot-8, 321-pound former third-round pick.
Of course, it’s possible the Raiders know something about the player others don’t and were thus willing to let him leave. Or, maybe, Veldheer wanted out and wasn’t going to re-sign no matter what his former team offered.
No matter what, it would be difficult for Veldheer to be any worse than what the Cardinals have had at the position for the last decade or so.