"He fits a lot of the things that we do defensively," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement, "and the prospect of having him alongside a perennial All-Pro like Adrian Wilson is very exciting."
The Jets received Arizona's original pick in the fourth round; the Cardinals acquired another Friday night from Baltimore in exchange for wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
The deal came a day after Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said he expected Rhodes to participate in the offseason program in a few weeks, and play in New York this year and beyond "unless something changes."
Apparently, something did change -- and Tannenbaum jumped at the chance to deal Rhodes, whose future with the Jets was uncertain after a shaky season in which he feuded with coaches over his role.
Rhodes has four years left on his contract and was due a $2 million roster bonus next week. Expected to be one of the standouts on coach Rex Ryan's defense last year, Rhodes struggled and even lost his starting job.
After trading Boldin and losing top free agents in Rolle and linebacker Karlos Dansby, who agreed to terms with Miami, the Cardinals got a player they feel can have an immediate impact.
"We all know that the safety position was a hole we needed to fill," Whisenhunt said. "To be able to do that so quickly and with a proven starter off the NFL's No. 1 defense is a tremendous positive for our football team. Kerry has the experience and ability to step in right away."
After Ryan was hired as the Jets' coach last year, he immediately compared Rhodes to Pro Bowler Ed Reed. He said Rhodes could fill the playmaking role Reed excelled in under Ryan for several years in Baltimore.
The high praise was the result of the 12 interceptions, nine sacks and five forced fumbles Rhodes had in his first four seasons. But Rhodes struggled to live up to that hype, producing no turnovers through the first 10 games.
The coaches began to have doubts about the desire of Rhodes, who has aspirations of having an acting career after football. So Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine pulled him from the base defensive package in favor of Eric Smith.
Rhodes was on the sideline for New York's opening defensive snap against Carolina on Nov. 29, the first time in his NFL career that he didn't start.
He returned to the starting lineup at Tampa Bay on Dec. 13 following a meeting with defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman -- one of the conditions set by Ryan. Rhodes appeared refocused and motivated the rest of the season and into the playoffs, finishing with three interceptions and a career-high 13 passes defensed.
Rhodes acknowledged he was frustrated, but humbled by last season. He had been noncommittal about whether he would want to return to the team, but met with the coaches and had a different outlook in the offseason.
"To be honest, I really do want to be here," Rhodes said in an interview with television station SportsNet New York in January. "This is New York. This is the team that gave me my first shot. They gave me the big contract. ... I'm letting the fans know I do want to be here to end my career as a Jet, but sometimes circumstances happen."
Rhodes, a fourth-round pick out of Louisville in 2005, has 15 career interceptions.