Ted Ginn to fill multiple roles for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona entered free agency looking for a speedy receiver to take the top off of defenses.

It was also looking for a kick returner who could make heady decisions and eat up yards in a hurry.

Well, they found both Thursday afternoon.

The Cardinals announced that they signed former Carolina Panthers wide receiver and returner Ted Ginn, Jr., to a three-year contract. Financial terms were not available.

Ginn gives Arizona options at wide receiver, although he'll be signed as primarily the team's third receiver. In 2013, all of his 556 yards were caught from either the wide right or wide left positions, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Last season, Michael Floyd, Arizona's No. 2 receiver, caught 51 of his 65 passes from out wide. Ginn will need to play more in the slot alongside Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald, giving quarterback Carson Palmer a stout receiving corps to choose from. But it's his speed that will make him a weapon. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likes having a fast receiver to stretch the secondary and take the top off defenses. That's Ginn. Last year it was Andre Roberts, but in my opinion, Ginn is an upgrade from Roberts. The Cardinals let Roberts, their No. 3 receiver last year, walk in free agency.

Ginn will also give Arizona an upgraded return game. Last season, he returned 25 kickoffs for 595 yards and 26 punts for 316 yards. As a team, Arizona only had 540 kickoff return yards and 321 punt return yards. It's yet to be seen if Cardinals coach Bruce Arians will hand the punt-return duties to Ginn or keep Patrick Peterson in place. Last season, Arians allowed Tyrann Mathieu to return just one punt, instead keeping the ball in Peterson's hands. Even though Ginn is a more experienced returner, it's still unlikely Peterson will be removed from that role.

Thursday's news also means a return for Ginn to the NFC West, where he spent 2010-12 with the San Francisco 49ers. He was part of the Niners' Super Bowl team two seasons ago, but was used primarily as a returner that season. In three years in the Bay Area, Ginn had 33 total catches.

During his second go-round in the NFC West, his role will be bigger. He's used to not being a team's main option on offense, but he'll be a significant part of the Cardinals' plans this season, in all roles he plays.