2012 NFL Free Agents: Arizona Cardinals Release T Levi Brown, Who Needs Him?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMarch 13, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Levi Brown #75 of the Arizona Cardinals before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals are expected to release left tackle Levi Brown over the next couple of hours in a move that everyone with knowledge of the situation could see coming for some time.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the news Monday night.

Without a re-structuring of his contract, Brown was scheduled to count a plump $17 million against the Cardinals' cap next season. He also had a $6 million roster option that was coming due Monday.

If the Cardinals had any interest in signing Peyton Manning to a contract this offseason, this move had to be made. But even if Manning wasn't on the Cardinals' radar, releasing Brown was something that was going to happen. No team would, in its right mind, pay an underachieving player that much money in the final year of his rookie deal.

Brown, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 draft, has been a 16-game starter for the Cardinals in all four of his NFL seasons. But back in April of '07, many Cardinals fans clamored for the team to take Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.

"AD" has only been the NFL's most dominant player at the running back position since the Vikings took him one pick after the Cardinals' selected Brown out of Penn State.

Brown, on the other hand, has been up-and-down during his time in Arizona.

Pro Football Focus, a site that grades every player on every play, routinely rates Brown as one of the NFL's worst tackles.

In 2011, PFF placed Brown as the 61st overall offensive tackle after he allowed 11 sacks and 40 quarterback pressures. He was considerably worse in 2010, when PFF rated him as the very worst offensive tackle in the NFL. In that season, Brown 10 sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 50 pressures.

However, in a free-agent market that lacks any real talent at offensive tackle, Brown is likely to field offers from teams for decent money.

Here's a few teams that may look into adding Brown:

Arizona Cardinals

Why not? They are thin at tackle with or without Brown and could be up for giving Brown less money to come back. He's started 64 straight games in Arizona.

Chicago Bears

The Bears still need help on the offensive line, and adding Brown—a monster of a man at 6'6", 325 pounds—would give Chicago a reliable option on the left side. The move would also free the Bears from having to add a tackle in the draft.

Detroit Lions

Jeff Backus is up there in age and also a free agent. While the Lions would likely want to re-sign Backus first and foremost, settling on a younger, healthy Brown would lessen the impact of a potential change at left tackle.   

Miami Dolphins

Could Brown be a fit on the right side of the Dolphins' line? Marc Columbo had a season to forget in 2011 (nine sacks, nine quarterback hits, 35 pressures) and needs to be replaced. Brown may be better suited to play on the right side, too. 

New York Giants

The Super Bowl champs could get an answer on the left or right side of their offensive line by signing Brown. He's not the best answer to fixing the Giants' need at tackle, but New York has done a lot more with a lot less. At the right price, why not?