The Arizona Cardinals released two veteran free agents today in linebacker Stewart Bradley and cornerback William Gay. While the release of Bradley is the more high-profile one, I want to take a quick look at the Cardinals decision to release Gay.
The 28-year-old cornerback started the season as the starting corner over Greg Toler, but that quickly changed in Week 4. After a miserable first-half against the Miami Dolphins in which Gay allowed nearly 130 yards, the Cardinals put in Toler and tossed Gay into the slot for the next couple of games. While Gay did improve from that awful showing and finished the season with a pair of excellent games, Gay had a very poor 2012 season and vastly underperformed his expectations coming into the season. The Pro Football Focus gave Gay a horrendous coverage grade that reflected some of his struggles, whereas Toler fared out well.
Compounding things for the Arizona Cardinals, Gay hit a base salary escalator for the 2013 season since he started in 15 games last season. He was set to make an affordable $1.475 million, but that number shot all the way up to $3.225 million which is a bloated price. Gay isn’t a terrible player, but he had a terrible season and clearly isn’t the answer for the Cardinals; especially at that price.
Rookie Jamell Fleming had his struggles, but he is young and has more promise than William Gay. He also showed more talent than Gay did last season, and then of course he is set to make less money. Releasing Gay was a wise decision for the Cardinals to make, and the trio of Patrick Peterson, Greg Toler, and Jamell Fleming should be fine going into next year. The Cards could use some more depth at CB, but they have more pressing needs on offense to consider under new head coach Bruce Arians.
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