The 5: Arizona Cardinals’ biggest losses in free agency
As free agency winds down and the 2018 NFL Draft approaches, the Arizona Cardinals have undergone changes to their roster.
This year, like any other, saw the Cardinals welcome in new faces while saying goodbye to others that are more familiar.
Here are some of the franchise’s biggest names to leave Arizona in free agency.
Defensive end Simeon Rice (1996-2000)
Signed with Tampa in 2001
Having recorded 122 sacks over 12 seasons, Rice was one of the most-feared defensive ends in the NFL. Selected No. 3 overall by Arizona in the 1996 NFL Draft, Rice spent five years of his career with the Cardinals. While he was named Rookie of the Year, his best season in Arizona came in 1999 when he forced five fumbles and posted a career-high 16.5 sacks.
On the rise, Rice left the desert to sign with Tampa Bay, joining what some consider to be one of the best defenses of the 2000s consisting of Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp as well as All-Pro defensive backs Ronde Barber and John Lynch.
With the Buccaneers, Rice won a Super Bowl and recorded double-digit sacks in five consecutive seasons.
He has not played since the 2007 season but expressed serious interest about making a comeback in 2017.
Quarterback Jake Plummer (1997-2002)
Signed with Denver in 2003
Plummer’s 30-52 record was not what the Cardinals anticipated after spending a second-round pick on him in 1997. However, he was the only Cardinals quarterback to make the playoffs between 1983 and 2007.
Arizona’s 1998 NFC Wild Card win was the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 1982 and the first playoff win since 1947.
The Broncos signed Plummer to a seven-year deal during the 2003 offseason and his record improved drastically in four seasons with Denver. He went 39-15, reaching the playoffs in each of the first three seasons before being benched 11 games into the 2006 season.
Safety Antrel Rolle (2005-09)
Signed with New York Giants in 2010
A former first-round pick, Rolle was one of top players at his position in the NFC during his time in Arizona. He recorded 12 interceptions but what stands out is that he returned four of those for touchdowns.
A starter on the Cardinals 2008 Super Bowl team, Rolle made the Pro Bowl in the final year of his contract and was primed for a large payday.
In the words of The Godfather and Don Vito Corleone, the New York Giants “made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” New York signed Rolle to a five-year, $37 million contract that made him the highest paid safety in the NFL at the time.
Rolle recorded 14 interceptions and five forced fumbles in five seasons with the Giants and was part of the team that won the Super Bowl in 2011.
Defensive end Calais Campbell (2008-16)
Signed with Jacksonville in 2017
The longest-tenured Cardinal on this list, Campbell spent nine years in Arizona. Selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Campbell recorded at least five sacks in each of his nine seasons with the Cardinals, missing six games in that span.
He became both a seasoned veteran and fan favorite with the Cardinals. In the offseason of 2017, Arizona briefly exercised its franchise tag on pass rusher Chandler Jones before signing him to a five-year, $83 million extension. Following Jones’ extension, Campbell hit the free agent market.
Jacksonville signed Campbell to a four-year deal worth $60 million. In his first year with the Jaguars, he made that contract look wise. Campbell reached a career high in sacks (14.5) and became the backbone of one of the top defenses in the NFL.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu (2013-17)
Signed with Houston in 2018
Arizona’s most recent impact free-agent departure was Mathieu. Drafted by the Cardinals in 2013, Mathieu spent five seasons in Arizona.
A talented defensive back, Mathieu had 11 interceptions and four forced fumbles in five seasons with the Cardinals. He was an All-Pro in 2015 but knee injuries limited his time on the field and eventually impacted his style of play.
Mathieu signed with Houston this offseason after turning down a pay cut from the Cardinals.
Wide receiver David Boston (1999-2002) – Signed with San Diego
Linebacker Karlos Dansby (2004-09) – Signed with Miami