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Cardinals in search of a long snapper after Mike Leach's retirement

Mike Leach warms up before a game in 2010. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. – Mike Leach’s retirement leaves the Arizona Cardinals with a gaping hole in their special-teams room just a few days after the season ended.

Arizona will be in search of a long snapper, either through free agency, a trade or the draft.

They’ll likely begin the search in their own locker room. Throughout the season, both offensive tackle Bradley Sowell and defensive tackle Josh Mauro worked at long snapper, either in practice or during pregame warmups. Sowell was the emergency long snapper.

Mauro had a significant role on defense this year, which might give Sowell the upper hand during OTAs and minicamp because he’ll have more time as a backup offensive lineman to work with special teams.

If Arizona seeks a long snapper through free agency, they’ll have a choice of eight unrestricted free agents, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Baltimore’s Morgan Cox, Carolina’s J.J. Jansen, Detorit’s Don Muhlbach, Green Bay’s Brett Goode, New York Giants’ Danny Aiken and Zak DeOssie, Oakland’s Thomas Gafford and Pittsburgh’s Greg Warren could all hit the open market in March, unless they’re re-signed earlier.

Goode is coming off a torn ACL, Aiken a thumb injury and DeOssie a wrist injury.

Of the expected free-agent class of long snappers, Jansen, Muhlbach and DeOssie are all former Pro Bowl selections. Cox was named to this year’s game.