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Free agency drastically changes Cardinals' roster, especially secondary

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It took fewer than four days of free agency to vastly change the complexion of the Arizona Cardinals' roster.

But no unit was hit harder, thus far, than the secondary.

In the process of losing seven players to free agency, the Cardinals lost three starters -- safeties Tony Jefferson (Ravens) and D.J. Swearinger (Redskins), and cornerback Marcus Cooper (Bears) -- leaving them with holes and questions heading into the second wave of free agency. As of Sunday night, the Cardinals’ starting cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson will be either Justin Bethel or Brandon Williams. Their two starting safeties will be Tyrann Mathieu and Tyvon Branch. Depth at safety has become a concern for Arizona, even with the signing of Antoine Bethea, who was released by the 49ers.

Bethea will bring a veteran presence to Arizona, but it’s unknown what his role will be on the field.

Along with the secondary trio, the Cardinals lost four other players to free agency. Defensive tackle Calais Campbell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, kicker Chandler Catanzaro signed with the New York Jets, tight end Darren Fells signed with the Detroit Lions and offensive lineman Earl Watford also signed with the Jags.

Besides signing Bethea, Arizona’s only other moves during free agency was re-signing center A.Q. Shipley and signing both kicker Phil Dawson and linebacker Karlos Dansby. For those counting at home, they’ve lost players at about a 2-to-1 ratio to signing players -- which could make the second wave of free agency all the more interesting for Arizona.

There are still nine former Cardinals unsigned, including linebacker Kevin Minter, who was ranked 34th on the ESPN NFL Top 150 free-agents list. Also unsigned are defensive tackle Frostee Rucker, running back Chris Johnson -- who ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported will begin visiting teams this week -- cornerback Mike Jenkins, linebacker Sio Moore, offensive lineman Taylor Boggs, linebacker Alex Okafor, running back Stepfan Taylor and running back Andre Ellington.

With the first wave of free agency having calmed, the Cardinals will enter the first full week of free agency either standing by equally as idle or ramp up their operation and begin signing guys who fit specific needs.