Breaston's loss part of cumulative effect

The Arizona Cardinals have taken pride in finding strong values later in the NFL draft.

BreastonBreastonSteve Breaston was one of those strong values. The 2007 fifth-round pick earned a roster spot on special teams, worked his way into becoming a 1,000-yard receiver and typified the grittiness coach Ken Whisenhunt has sought to establish in Arizona.

Breaston's contract agreement with Kansas City, as reported by ESPN's John Clayton, has to sting Arizona even though the Cardinals knew the 27-year-old wideout might be leaving.

Breaston was a gamer. The touchdown-saving fumble he forced against St. Louis last season stands out as symbolic.

My recap at the time:

Breaston was everywhere for the Cardinals during their 17-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams. He hustled downfield to force a fumble just as Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan was about to score a touchdown on a fumble return. The Cardinals trailed by three at the time and they were struggling to get much going offensively. A Rams touchdown in that situation might have won the game for St. Louis. Breaston made another touchdown-saving tackle earlier in the game, bringing down Rams cornerback Bradley Fletcher after a 43-yard fumble return.

When the Cardinals needed Breaston on offense, he was catching each of the seven passes thrown his way, good for 132 yards. Six of the seven receptions produced first downs. Breaston had a 16-yarder on third-and-6, a 22-yarder on third-and-16 and a 35-yarder on third-and-10.

I understand why the Cardinals didn't go all-out to bring back Breaston. Andre Roberts showed promise at receiver last season. Breaston has had knee problems. Arizona still has Larry Fitzgerald. The team drafted a receiving tight end in Rob Housler.

Still, the Cardinals keep losing core players. They suffered significant personnel losses last offseason. Each one seemed defensible and even logical on certain levels, but the net losses have set back the team. Breaston will be missed.