In a move that was both expected and necessary, the Cardinals released tackle Levi Brown Tuesday, clearing necessary salary cap space so the team could comply with the $120.6 million limit by the deadline.
The Cardinals have said they want to keep Brown, but needed to restructure his deal and lower his salary. He had been due an $8.3 million salary and had a cap number of nearly $17 million, numbers that were prohibitive.
General manager Rod Graves said at the Scouting combine the team wanted to keep Brown either to play on the left or right side. At the time, Graves also said the team had a value in mind for what it wanted to pay Brown.
“To me, that’s his number,” Graves said then. “If someone else steps in and thinks his value is much greater, then that’s a decision on an individual basis. For us, I have a pretty good idea where his value should be and I am hoping we can get a deal done.”
The team was not able to come to a new agreement, however, not a surprise, given the dearth of available tackles on the free agent market. Brown figured to force a release so he could at least shop himself and get an idea of his value around the league.
The Cards needed space. NFL.com reported the Cardinals were still $13.7 million over the salary cap as of Monday night, a figure that did not include any extra cap space gained by the cap punishment to the Redskins and Cowboys Monday or any of Tuesday’s moves. While Brown’s entire $16.9 cap number won’t be saved – some other cap number is added to the top 51 cap numbers to reach the limit – Brown’s release should buy between $14 million and $15 million of space, giving the Cards some breathing room.
That doesn’t mean the Cards won’t make more moves as free agency progresses, but it is all the Cards needed to do Tuesday. The team continues to wait for the decision of free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, whose choice of new team will likely influence the Cards one way or the other when it proceeds in free agency.
To follow the Cards' free-agent moves, refer to the team's free-agent tracker in the coming weeks.