- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The storyline about the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line for the past two seasons was two-fold: Keep the line healthy and keep the quarterback upright.
After a miserable 2012, during which the offensive line was put together with thread and a needle for most of the season, the line steadied itself in 2013. Four of the five starters played all 16 games and left tackle Bradley Sowell started all 12 after the Cardinals traded Levi Brown.
But keeping the quarterbacks upright wasn't as easy as keeping the starters healthy.
Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer was sacked 41 times in 2013, the most for him since 2006. If the reports that the Cardinals are interested in Oakland Raiders left tackle Jared Veldheer come to fruition, Palmer will be reunited with the man who protected his blind side for his two years in Oakland. And did very well, it should be added.
Palmer was sacked 17 times in 2011 and 26 times in 2012 with Veldheer as his left tackle. Bringing the two together could be the difference between the Cardinals watching the playoffs and playing in them. Veldheer was on injured reserve for the first 11 games of 2013 with a triceps tear he suffered last August, a similar injury to the one Levi Brown suffered during the 2012 preseason.
If his stats are any indication -- in his five games last season, Veldheer allowed just one sack but 13 quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus -- Veldheer is healthy, and continue to improve with another offseason to recover.
The Cardinals are reportedly expected to offer him between $7 million-$7.5 million per year, according to the Baltimore Sun, a significant upgrade from the $1.3 million he earned in 2013. During Veldheer's last full season in the NFL, 2012, he was among the top left tackles in the league, getting a 22.2 grade from PFF. Eugene Monroe, another potential Cardinals' target, graded out at 21 that same season.
Arizona didn't want to break the bank on a left tackle and if Veldheer can return to his 2012 form alongside his 2012 quarterback, he may just be worth the investment.