So, you see that the Arizona Cardinals signed two more cornerbacks earlier this week and the thought begins to cross your mind: "Why is Arizona bringing in even more cornerbacks, especially after signing Antonio Cromartie?"
Well, I'm glad you asked.
Two years ago, the NFL changed its rules to allow teams to have 90 players on their roster, up from 80, which means every team, including the Cardinals, spend their offseason evaluating free agents to fill most of those spots. In essence, they're just bodies for training camp. Come cut day, most will pack their bags and head home. Some will be cut and re-signed to the practice squad.
But coaching staffs, including the Cardinals, will use the extra players to create competition. Guys like LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley, who were signed Tuesday to two-year contracts, look at the opportunity like a shot at Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket. If they impress enough and the chips fall in their favor, they can make an NFL roster. But with eight cornerbacks on the roster as of today and the starters named Patrick Peterson and Cromartie, odds are neither Lewis nor Whitley will make the final 53-man roster. But here's the thing about the NFL: You never know when your time will come.
Take Bryan McCann and Curtis Taylor for example. Lewis and Whitley are in a very similar situation as those two. The Cardinals brought McCann and Taylor in for a tryout last offseason and signed both of them a year ago today. McCann and Taylor competed for a job all through OTAs and mini camp, and then through training camp only to be cut Sept. 1 and Aug. 30, respectively.
But they proved enough during their time in Arizona to draw enough good attention from general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians. Arizona re-signed Taylor to the practice squad but McCann was out of work until mid November. After Teddy Williams injured his Achilles in Jacksonville, the Cardinals brought McCann back for the final six games to primarily be a gunner. He was re-signed again on March 17 with a good shot at retaining that role this season across from Pro Bowler Justin Bethel.
As for Taylor, he earned a weekly pay check on the practice squad until Week 14, when he was brought up to the 53-man roster. And even though he was inactive for two of the final three games, he suited up in Week 16 at Seattle.
So there's hope for Lewis and Whitley. If they make the team, Lewis will earn $495,000 and Whitley will earn $420,000 in 2014, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It's a small investment from the Cardinals for two guys who could potentially find a role on the team.
If they can make a good enough impression on Keim and Arians, they never know when their number might get called.