Peters, Bell and the Cardinals' tackle issue

April, 4, 2012
4/04/12
12:40
PM ET

Jason Peters' injury hurt the Philadelphia Eagles and did no favors for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Pro Bowl left tackle was earning $12.8 million per year, a reflection of his obvious value to the Eagles. His injury thrust Philadelphia into the market for a free-agent tackle, leading the Eagles to reach agreement with the previously misnamed Demetress Bell, a player the Cardinals had targeted early in free agency.

Arizona is heading toward the draft with an obvious need at tackle. The Cardinals hold the 13th overall choice, but no pick in the second round. They re-signed veteran tackle Levi Brown, but the position remains unsettled.

Moving Brown back to right tackle would require finding a better prospect for the left side. That appears unlikely in the short term, even if the Cardinals use their first-round choice for a tackle. It's looking like Brown will man the left side heading into the season.

Who starts opposite Brown? Perhaps it's a draft choice. Former starter Brandon Keith has had injury problems and is unsigned. Jeremy Bridges is nearly 32 years old and appears most valuable as a spot starter, not a long-term answer. The team re-signed D'Anthony Batiste, a 30-year-old backup with 22 appearances and four starts in six seasons with six teams.

Bell, formerly of the Buffalo Bills, was the most promising young tackle available in free agency. The Cardinals were among several teams to meet with him this offseason. Bell, 27, was not a sure bet, however. A shoulder injury slowed him last season. Bell played in seven games, starting six. He has 30 starts over the last three seasons.

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