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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Levi Brown's release recalls past issues

By Mike Sando

Like clockwork, another Arizona Cardinals top-10 draft choice has reached a point in his rookie contract when the salary-cap figure became untenable.

Larry Fitzgerald and Antrel Rolle got there first. Levi Brown arrived Tuesday, leading to his release as the Cardinals sought to comply with salary-cap limits.

The manner in which the Cardinals structured contracts before the rookie wage scale took effect forced them into tough spots with all three players. Fitzgerald used the leverage to broker the first of two trend-setting contracts. Rolle and Brown used the leverage to force their release, with Rolle joining the New York Giants and Brown hitting the market Tuesday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said the Cardinals would like to bring back Brown. That could still happen.

The Cardinals shouldn't encounter problems along these lines in the future. For one, they've fared well enough to avoid picking at the very top of the draft. The rookie wage scale also dramatically reduces payouts, sparing teams from structuring contracts the way Arizona has done previously.

The team announced Brown's release Tuesday.