by Kent Somers - Feb. 24, 2012 12:18 PM
The Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
General Manager Rod Graves often talks of keeping
the team's core of young players together, and the
team has done a much better job of it in recent
years. Defensive end Calais Campbell is part of that
core. But while the Cardinals want to re-sign left
tackle Levi Brown, I'm not sure he's included as a
Brown might be just the best option the team has at
this point. When I play GM, which is often, my
philosophy when evaluating whether to re-sign
players is to ask if I can reasonably expect to
upgrade the position.
There won't be a lot of quality tackles in free agency.
My opinion is that Brown will garner considerable
attention if he hits the free agent market. He'll be 28
when the season starts, played the best of his career
in the final half of the season and has experience
playing both the left and right sides.
That versatility gives the Cardinals some options,
especially if they decide to take a left tackle high in
Brown has been a frequent target of criticism in his
five seasons with the team. A good portion of it has
been justified because he hasn't played up the
expectations that come with being the fifth overall
"There is not the evaluation for that position, the
tangible results that you can get from a receiver, or
a running back or a quarterback," coach Ken
Whisenhunt said. "So every time a block is missed,
(it's) 'oh, you played horrible.' If you throw the ball
30-something times, it's (missed blocks) going to
"With all that being said, over the last half of our
season this past year, when we needed it the most,
Levi played probably his best football. It was
consistent. It was something that was important to
our team, and hopefully that was a point where he
was starting to get it from that standpoint."
I don't think the Cardinals are deceiving themselves
in their evaluation of Brown. No one, for instance,
has ever bemoaned Brown's lack of Pro Bowl
appearances. A year ago, I'm not sure the Cardinals
would have valued Brown this highly. But the last
eight games or so of the 2011 season made a
difference to them.
The question the Cardinals and Brown must answer
is simple: What is Brown worth?
Graves said he has a figure in mind. Brown and his
agent probably do, too. Graves said he plans to step u
p efforts in the coming days to reach an
agreement. Brown wants to be a Cardinal, Graves
said, and the Cardinals want him to be a Cardinal.
Brown might not be part of the team's "core" but
finding left tackles who play at the level he did in
the final eight games isn't easy. That raises another
intriguing question: do eight or so games make up
for so-so performances over the previous 4 1/2
They just might, if the Cardinals aren't sure they can
find a better option via free agency and the draft.