Cardinals to retain Iupati, who takes pay cut amid O-line restructure
The Arizona Cardinals will retain a significant name on the offensive line, as guard Mike Iupati will return to the team despite its ongoing cost-cutting measures, 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Mike Jurecki reported Wednesday.
Iupati agreed to take a pay cut, dropping his base salary from $7.75 to $5 million guaranteed. His contract is voidable next season, Jurecki confirmed.
The 30-year-old Iupati signed a five-year, $40 million deal with the Cardinals in 2015. He started in 13 games for Arizona that season, making the Pro Bowl for the fourth time and being named a Second Team All-Pro.
It was 15 starts for Iupati in 2016, but he started only one game in 2017 before requiring surgery on his right elbow that ended his season.
Iupati was the 17th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Idaho by the San Francisco 49ers. In San Francisco during his rookie year, he played under new Cardinals offensive line coach Ray Brown, then an assistant offensive line coach.
Iupati played for five seasons in San Francisco, making three Pro Bowls and earning First Team All-Pro in 2012.
Iupati’s contract restructuring follows the news of the Cardinals planning to sign quarterback Sam Bradford to a one-year, $20 million deal. That deal for Bradford has $15 million guaranteed and a team option for a second year at the same base salary, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Along the line, the Cardinals reportedly will sign former Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andre Smith. They also put former New York Giants lineman Justin Pugh through a physical on Wednesday that checked out, according to Jurecki.
When healthy — Pugh ended 2017 with a back injury placing him on IR — the 27-year-old has been one of the better, most versatile linemen in the league. He played 128 snaps at left guard and 308 at right tackle last year.
Pugh would potentially slide in at right guard with Iupati returning and Smith and D.J. Humphries playing tackle.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what will happen with Cardinals tackle Jared Veldheer, who remains under contract but could be the odd man out with the new additions.