List of former Cardinals players Arians, Bettcher brought to new teams
Bruce Arians and James Bettcher worked together on the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff from 2013-17 and over the past two offseasons brought several players from the desert to join them on their new teams.
After one year of retirement, Arians is returning to the sidelines to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are five players on the roster who played for him on the Cardinals.
Meanwhile, Bettcher is entering his second season as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. He now has six former Cardinals on his team.
Here’s a look at each player the coaches brought on with connections to their Arizona pasts.
Linebacker Deone Bucannon
Bucannon established himself as an important part of Arians’ defense early in his career, playing all 32 games over his first two seasons and recording 109 tackles, 3.0 sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception and a touchdown in his second year alone.
But he fell off the depth chart under head coach Steve Wilks last year, playing limited time in the 13 games he appeared in. After recording only 36 tackles, by far a career-low, he returns to play under Arians, former Cardinals DC and current Bucs DC Todd Bowles and outside linebackers coach Larry Foote, who both served under Arians during their times in Arizona.
Running back Andre Ellington
Ellington was the primary running back for Arizona in 2014, a season in which he was a solid runner and proved himself as an effective pass catcher. Injuries e emergence of David Johnson changed his role, though, and he was waived in 2017 and did not play in the league last year.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert
He and Arians’ time together in Arizona was limited, but he was the third-string quarterback for the majority of 2017. Injuries to quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton allowed him to play five games as the Cardinals evaluated him as a potential future quarterback. While they did not elect to re-sign him, Arians saw enough to feel comfortable with Gabbert on his Buccaneers team.
Linebacker Kevin Minter
Like Bucannon, Minter was an important piece of Arizona’s dominant defensive units under Arians and Todd Bowles, and, later, Bettcher. He played every game from 2014-16 and was integral in the latter two years, recording a combined 166 tackles and 4.0 sacks.
Offensive guard Earl Watford
Even during the Arians years, the Cardinals offensive lines were often plagued by injury. Watford was no exception. The backup played more than 10 games just once in the four years he saw any game time (15 games in 2016), but Arians liked him enough to bring him on board to Tampa.
Free safety Antoine Bethea
Bethea produced well in his first season under Bettcher in 2017, leading the team with five interceptions and adding 57 tackles and a sack. He started all 16 games last season (under defensive coordinator Al Holcomb) and had 121 tackles.
Defensive end Markus Golden
Assumed to be the future of the Cardinals’ line after recording 12.5 sacks in his second season as a pro, an ACL injury cost Golden all but four games in his third year, Bettcher’s final in the desert. Golden played in 11 games last year, recording 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks as he attempted to round into shape following ACL surgery. He and Bettcher reunite as Golden continues to return to form.
Linebacker Kareem Martin
Martin only started 12 games but played in 45 of 48 under Bettcher with Arizona from 2015-17. He joined the Giants with Bettcher last season and started seven games, posting 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Running back Elijhaa Penny
After joining the Cardinals in a reserve role in 2017, he stuck with Bettcher and joined him in New York last season.
Defensive tackle Olsen Pierre
Pierre started seven of the final eight games under Bettcher in 2017 and recorded 20 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and forced a fumble during that span. He only started one game in 2018 and was placed on injured reserve.
Cornerback Ronald Zamort
Look at Zamort’s Pro Football Reference page and you’ll see a lot of bouncing back and forth between waivers and the practice squad. He first joined the Cardinals in May 2016 but stuck with the organization through 2017. He was signed to the Giants’ practice squad in October 2018.