2012 NFL Draft: Arizona Cardinals Could Look to Draft to Solve LT Problem

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IFebruary 15, 2012

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals talks with Levi Brown #75 before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2011 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There are very few players in the NFL that are worth almost $18 million over a single year.

Arizona Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown isn't one of them. 

Entering the last season of his rookie contract—Brown was drafted No. 5 overall in the 2007 draft—Brown is set to earn $8.33 million in base salary and a $9.675 million roster bonus in 2012.

That kind of money doesn't make sense, even if Brown had developed into an elite left tackle in Arizona.

While Brown came on towards the end of 2011, he was never the dominant left tackle that the Cardinals thought they were getting back in April of 2007. 

That leaves the Cardinals with a decision to make regarding their blindside protector.

Does Arizona drastically re-structure his deal to keep him on the Cardinals roster or do they flat out release him and find his replacement in the 2012 NFL draft?

ESPN's Mike Sando thinks that it is time for the Cardinals to invest in an offensive tackle this April:

"Levi Brown might have played his final game for the team at left tackle. His contract becomes untenable in 2012. The Cardinals could bring him back at a reduced rate. Upgrading the position might be a better option. Two teams, Arizona and Tennessee, have not selected an offensive lineman in the first three rounds of the last four drafts. The Cardinals will need better pass protection even if Kolb improves his pocket awareness."

Sitting at No. 13 overall, the Cardinals could have a few options.

USC's Matt Kalil will almost surely be gone, but the outside possibility of either Stanford's Jonathan Martin or Iowa's Riley Reiff getting to the Cardinals exists. Ohio State's Mike Adams is also a fast-rising prospect who should be available. 

If the Cardinals wanted to go pass-rusher or some other position in the first round, the second round has Zebrie Sanders (Florida State), Bobbie Massey (Ole Miss), Nate Potter (Boise State) and Mitchell Swartz (Cal) as potential options.

Regardless of what they end up doing with Brown, expect the Cardinals to take a long look at offensive tackle early in April.

They need to address an important position that they've overlooked for several straight drafts.