Cardinals allow big tackle to become free agent
February 17, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals told Leonard Davis that they won't name him a franchise or transition player, clearing the offensive tackle to become an unrestricted free agent.

The move, announced in a team news release, was not a surprise because the Cardinals have long felt that Davis would not be worth the huge investment required either to re-sign him or name him a franchise player.

"In fairness to Leonard, we wanted to let him know our position so he can move forward and make plans," said Rod Graves, vice president of football operations. "Our coaching staff has had an opportunity to evaluate Leonard and how he fits in with our team and we feel this is an option that makes the most sense from a football standpoint."

If the Cardinals had made Davis a franchise player, he would have received a guaranteed one-year contract of about $11 million.

"When we evaluated Leonard, we certainly see ability and .. improvement, especially as last season went on," new Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement issued Friday. "But when you look at the situation on the whole and take everything into account, we don't feel that the investment that would be required to keep him is equal to the performance."

The Cardinals still could re-sign Davis if he doesn't go to another team, but that possibility seemed remote.

"That would depend on what transpires and how the circumstances play out. It's not about cap room or trying to make it fit, but it's about paying the right value for Leonard Davis," Graves said, indicating the money could be better spent elsewhere.

"Going forward, we're making our free-agency plans and intend to be very aggressive," Graves said.

Davis, a 6-foot-6, 365-pound behemoth out of Texas, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2001 draft, behind only Michael Vick. He started 91 games for the Cardinals, including all 16 last season, but never became the overpowering Pro Bowl-level player the team had envisioned.

Davis played guard for his first three NFL seasons, then switched to left tackle in 2004.