There might not have been a team needier for offensive tackles than the Cardinals, not just because of their lack of talent at the position last year, but because of their lack of talent at the position for many years. It’s been seemingly forever since they had competent offensive tackle play. Bradley Sowell was horrific this season at left tackle, after taking over for Levi Brown, an overpaid offensive tackle who was traded to Pittsburgh. Sowell graded out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked offensive tackle.
Neither of youngsters Nate Potter nor Bobbie Massie did anything of note this season, playing 80 and 57 snaps respectively this season. Meanwhile, free agent acquisition Eric Winston was awful as well at right tackle, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 69th ranked offensive tackle out of 76 eligible. He’s a free agent this off-season anyway. They needed one, if not two new starters at offensive tackle this off-season. Jared Veldheer is a new starter and a very good one at that.
Veldheer comes cheaper than he would have because of an injury that limited him to 335 snaps in 2013, as the Cardinals get him for 35 million over 5 years when he probably could have commanded upwards of 40 million over 5 years he had not been hurt. It was smart for the Cardinals to pounce on him after an injury plagued year because he doesn’t have much of a history of injury before last season, because it was an upper body injury (torn triceps), which usually doesn’t cause many long-term problems, and because he’s still young, going into his age 27 season.
The 2010 3rd round pick was Pro Football Focus’ 17th ranked offensive tackle in 2011 and 12th ranked offensive tackle in 2012, one of 7 offensive tackles to grade out in the top-17 in both seasons (Joe Thomas, Duane Brown, Eugene Monroe, Tyson Clabo, Michael Roos, Andrew Whitworth). With the exception of Clabo, a right tackle who aged rapidly and struggled in 2013, all of those players make more money yearly than him.
This deal makes Veldheer only the 16th highest paid offensive tackle in the NFL. It’s not quite the Ravens getting Monroe for 37.5 million over 5 years, but it sure is better than Branden Albert, who has never graded out higher than 18th on Pro Football Focus, getting 46 million over 5 years. Carson Palmer has to be happy about the massive upgrade on his blindside (with the man who protected his blindside in Oakland) and Cardinals fans should be happy about this deal too.