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Sunday, July 31, 2011
Todd Heap and Cardinals' evolving offense

By Mike Sando

Todd Heap caught 10 passes for 108 yards for Baltimore in the playoffs last season.

The Arizona Cardinals could use that type of production from a tight end. After drafting Rob Housler and signing Jeff King from Carolina in free agency, the team added to its growing stockpile by reaching a contract agreement with Heap, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. The team also announced the agreement.

Heap
Heap, 31, was informally connected to Arizona in trade speculation back when the Cardinals were looking to trade receiver Anquan Boldin. Arizona was a natural fit for Heap, who is from Mesa and played at Arizona State.

Cardinals fans should remember Arizona's 2007 trip to Baltimore featuring Adrian Wilson's huge hit on Heap during the game's pivotal moments. Officials flagged Wilson for unnecessary roughness, helping the Ravens move into position for the winning field goal. Replays showed the hit to be legal. The NFL levied no fine against Wilson.

"We had an airborne receiver hit by a defender, who we called launched into him, and he had a blow above the shoulders into the head area," referee Jerome Boger said at the time.

The Ravens released Heap and other veteran players in moves that cleared room under the salary cap. Instead of re-signing at a lower price, Heap is heading home. Having Heap, King and Housler in combination gives the Cardinals fresh potential at a position the team has not emphasized in recent seasons.

But with receiver Steve Breaston departing in free agency and the team adding second-round draft choice Ryan Williams to a crowded backfield, Arizona might be less inclined to feature four-receiver personnel groupings as frequently. At the very least, the potential is there for diversification.