Cardinals tender Jonathan Ward, Antoine Wesley to exclusive rights offers

Mar 9, 2022, 2:04 PM
Jonathan Ward #29 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the...
Jonathan Ward #29 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals tendered running back Jonathan Ward and wide receiver Antoine Wesley to exclusive rights offers on Wednesday.

The deals span one year. The dollar amounts are unknown.

Ward saw an uptick in play over the course of his second NFL season, receiving 46 offensive snaps (5% of available snaps) and 201 special teams reps (58%) this past season after recording four offensive and 174 special teams snaps in 2020.

Those 2021 snaps translated to nine carries for 33 yards. He also caught three balls for 34 yards, including one of the best catches of the year on a fake punt against the Dallas Cowboys.

The running back also accounted for a forced fumble, five tackles and a kick return for 16 yards.

The signing adds another body to a thin running backs room that as of Wednesday afternoon features Eno Benjamin as the only other rusher under contract through next season. The team’s 2021 starters, Chase Edmonds and James Conner, are unrestricted free agents this offseason.

As for Wesley, the wide receiver filled in for DeAndre Hopkins in the latter half of the season after the No. 1 option went down with a torn MCL.

Following Hopkins’ injury in Week 10, Wesley recorded 15 catches on 25 targets for 139 yards and three touchdowns over the final seven games of the regular season. Two of his scores came in a 25-22 win over the Cowboys.

Outside of Wesley, the Cardinals currently have Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch and Andy Isabella currently under contract through next season. Isabella, however, has been granted permission to seek a trade.

The Ward and Wesley signings come the same day the Cardinals decided to release starting middle linebacker and captain Jordan Hicks. The move makes way for second-year pro Zaven Collins to step into a starting MIKE backer role.

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