After bolstering their offensive line earlier in the day with the signing of free-agent right tackle Eric Winston, the Cardinals made a move to strengthen their pass rush later Thursday, agreeing to terms with veteran defensive end John Abraham on a two-year deal reportedly worth up to $6 million.
The Cards also released outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield, who had four sacks last season and 10.5 in a three-year career in which he never became the sort of pass-rushing threat the team envisioned when he was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.
“We’re going to turn over every stone we can turn to make our team better,” coach Bruce Arians said regarding Schofield’s release before it became official. “It’s a cold business some days.”
The 35-year-old Abraham spent the last seven seasons with the Falcons and posted 68.5 sacks in that time, including a team-high 10 last year. He suffered an ankle injury late in the regular season, though, and provided little pass rush in the playoffs before being released in March.
According to Mike Garafalo of FOX Sports, the Falcons were interested in his return only at a reduced rate and a reduced role after they’d signed former Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora. Abraham also learned other teams viewed him as a situational pass rusher.
Originally a first-round pick by the Jets in 200, Abraham has 122 sacks in his career, and even at an age at which most NFL players are in decline, he has averaged just under 11 sacks a year over the past three seasons.
The Cardinals finished 11th in the league in sacks last year but did not get much of a pass rush from their defensive line or outside linebackers, including Schofield; inside linebacker Daryl Washington, who has been suspended for at least the first four games of the regular season, led the team with nine sacks, and defensive end Calais Campbell (6.5) was the only other player with more than four for the year.
In addition to Campbell at defensive end, the Cardinals currently have free-agent signee Frostee Rucker, who had four sacks while starting all 16 games for the Browns last year, as well as backups Ronald Talley and Everette Thompson.
Schofield was pulled aside by Cardinals director of player personnel
Jason Licht and apparently informed of his release before he got to the field for Thursday’s conditioning test. The move was announced shortly thereafter.