The Arizona Cardinals have announced that they will release safety Antrel Rolle. The move furthers the Cardinals’ offseason makeover, which has seen quarterback Kurt Warner and linebacker Karlos Dansby leave the team due to retirement and free agency. While it’s still possible that Rolle will eventually return to the team with a restructured contract, he will be able to test the free agent market first.
Rolle’s presence in the free agent market is sure to open the eyes of several NFL teams looking to bolster their defense, namely the Chicago Bears. Originally a cornerback, Rolle moved to safety last season for the Cardinals following their Super Bowl run. He was subsequently named to his first Pro Bowl in 2009, which indicates his career is on the upswing.
At times last year, due to performance issues and injuries, the Bears started extremely inexperienced secondary units. The Bears can be sure that trotting out Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks in the starting safety positions next year will be suicide. Danieal Manning is a great athlete, but seems to be better of in the nickel position. Kevin Payne has really been the only rock at the safety position. With that knowledge, Rolle should be at the forefront of their free agent discussions. And the fact that he has extensive experience playing corner? Well, that’s just an added bonus for a Bears team that has struggled mightily at that position as well.
Rolle is owed $12 million this upcoming season and the Cardinals are reluctant to pay it, so testing the free agent market is the best option for him. At 27, you have to believe Rolle, who recorded 4 interceptions last year, will be a hot commodity…even if the price tag could be a little high.
Now I know the Bears won’t be able to go after everyone because the finances aren’t unlimited, but if this team expects to compete next season, they need to make moves in the offseason. We all know this year’s draft won’t be their source for success. Not picking until the 3rd round will do that to you.