The Arizona Cardinals signed an inside linebacker in his 30s with the hope that he’ll provide depth to a position that’s thin behind the starters.
If this story sounds familiar, forgive me.
Foote confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday night that he signed a one-year deal to play for the Cardinals in 2014. At first glance, Foote appears to be primed for a backup role behind Daryl Washington and Kevin Minter. But Foote can also be an insurance policy should Washington face a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
By the time Arizona reports for training camp in late July, Foote will be 34 years old and 10 months removed from a ruptured right biceps injury that he suffered in Week 1 of last season. But 34 might be misleading in this case. A year away from the game can do wonders for a player’s body. His legs will be fresh and he’s entering this season with a year of less pounding on his aging joints and muscles. If Foote stays on the roster and remains healthy for the first two weeks of the season, it’ll be the first back-to-back regular-season games he’s played since 2012. Talk about a rest.
Foote got off to a fast start in 2013, landing eight tackles in 55 snaps before he was injured.
Could Arizona be the fountain of youth yet again?
But there’s something else to consider: Foote may just be temporary relief at inside linebacker until the Cardinals either draft someone this week, find out about a Washington suspension or sign a younger player.
With his extensive history with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, I don’t see that being the case. Arians has showed an affinity toward former Steelers, and he watched Foote make life miserable for Arians’ offense in practice every day for seven years. He knows Foote's value.
If all else fails, Arians will rely on Foote to be a mentor for his young inside backers. Washington, who’s had legal and league issues in the past year, has been in the NFL since 2010, and Minter, who’s slotted to replace Dansby in the starting lineup, will be in his second year. Like running back Jonathan Dwyer will do with Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor, Foote can be the older brother who knows exactly what Arians wants out of his players.
Either way, Foote has a new lease on his football career, and the Cardinals have depth where they need it most.