Cardinals agree on 1-year deal with LG Alan Faneca
AP Sports Writer
The Arizona Cardinals agreed to terms with free-agent left guard Alan Faneca on a one-year contract Tuesday, three days after he was cut by the New York Jets.
Faneca, who played the past two seasons for the Jets, rejoins Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm, both former Steelers assistants. Grimm was the nine-time Pro Bowl selection’s position coach from 2001-06 in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a great situation for me with a group of coaches I’m familiar with, especially to be back with Russ again,” Faneca said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Arizona did not release financial terms.
“We’re obviously familiar with him from our time together in Pittsburgh, but we’ve also seen a lot of tape of him from the last two years with the Jets,” Whisenhunt said, “and he’s still the same tough, physical player who does a good job pulling and getting to the next level.”
The 33-year-old Faneca spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Steelers, who drafted him in the first round out of Louisiana State in 1998, and has 128 consecutive starts over the past eight years.
“There’s a reason he’s been selected to the last nine Pro Bowls,” Whisenhunt said. “And at a time when we’re facing changes on our offensive line, we’re very fortunate to have a player of his caliber coming on board.”
The Cardinals already have a left guard in Reggie Wells, but it’s possible either Wells or Faneca could switch to the right side. Deuce Lutui, the starter at right guard the past two seasons, is a restricted free agent who has yet to sign his qualifying offer.
Faneca, pursued by the Cardinals as a free agent two years ago, will be part of a line that already had been altered with the planned switch of Levi Brown from right to left tackle. Incumbent left tackle Mike Gandy is an unrestricted free agent and was not re-signed.
Brandon Keith and Jeremy Bridges are the contenders for the spot at right tackle.
Faneca will join a few other familiar faces in Arizona. Kicker Jay Feely and safety Kerry Rhodes are also former Jets now with the Cardinals.
The Jets parted ways Saturday with Faneca, one of the leaders of a unit that paved the way for the league’s top-rushing offense, even though he was owed $5.2 million in guaranteed salary this year. New York selected University of Massachusetts lineman Vladimir Ducasse in the second round of the draft, and he’ll compete with Matt Slauson for Faneca’s old spot.
“My family and I have had a wonderful time and experience here with the Jets,” Faneca told the AP. “We look forward to what lies ahead, on and off the field.”
Faneca’s age and slip in production, particularly in pass protection, were also likely factors in him being cut.
“With Alan, we just felt it was time to move on,” Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said Saturday.
Faneca signed a five-year, $40 million contract, with $21 million in guarantees, with the Jets in 2008 – making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history at that time. He helped with the development of center Nick Mangold and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who both made the Pro Bowl last season.