TEMPE, Ariz. — This is a moment Arizona Cardinals fans have been waiting for. The left tackle position has finally been solidified and it isn’t a short-term fix.
General manager Steve Keim addressed the weakness by signing Jared Veldheer away from the Oakland Raiders.
“We got the guy we wanted,” Keim said Wednesday at Veldheer’s introductory press conference. “We initially anticipated that the Raiders were gonna tag him and when they did not do that, it was full steam ahead. We were very, very aggressive about our approach.”
The 26-year-old has started 48 of the 53 games he played in Oakland after being drafted in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Hillsdale College.
Veldheer made it seem like it was an easy decision to head to the desert.
“I didn’t need to be sold much at all,” he said. “When I got to free agency the Cardinals and Steve Keim were very aggressive right off the bat. I looked at a team that is right there on the cusp. Seeing what Coach Arians has done and the great direction, there was nothing that really had to sell me more than looking at all that.”
During Veldheer’s four years with the Raiders, they were a combined 24-40 and never finished better than 8-8. In Arians’ first year with Arizona, the team managed to go 10-6 in the best division in the NFL.
While the offensive line hasn’t been a strength of the Cardinals’ in recent history, that looks to be changing. Joining Veldheer with second year left guard Jonathan Cooper potentially solidifies that side of the unit for many years to come.
“A big smile,” said head coach Bruce Arians. “Coop looks great and you knock on wood that we have them all year. To have two young guys that good on the left side of the line, you can’t put that into words.”
The contract numbers for Veldheer have yet to be made official, but reports have it coming in at five years for $35 million with a $6.25 million signing bonus and $10.5 million guaranteed.