High-Priced Defender Cut After Failing to Log a Single Snap With Cardinals

Cardinals release CB Robert Alford

Getty The Cardinals release CB Robert Alford.

Cornerback Robert Alford was supposed to be the answer opposite Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson for the Arizona Cardinals. Unfortunately, injuries never allowed that to come to fruition.

The team announced on Wednesday the release of Alford, clearing $7.5 million in cap space. Alford still had one year remaining on his original three-year, $22.5 million contract which he inked with Arizona back in 2019. Despite his release, 98.7 Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro tweeted that it wouldn’t be a surprise if Alford and the Cardinals reunite later on down the road.

In other roster news, the team re-signed linebacker and special teams contributor Tanner Vallejo. The contract is reported to be a two-year deal worth $4.1 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

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Alford Didn’t Log a Single Snap With the Cardinals

The release of Alford is far from a surprise, but it still stings. Prior to his arrival in Arizona, the now 32-year-old cornerback was a mainstay in the Atlanta Falcons secondary. A former second-round pick out of Southeastern Louisiana, Alford started 81 of his 93 career games (regular season and postseason) with the Falcons, including the team’s appearance in Super Bowl LI.

Over his final four seasons with Atlanta, Alford missed a total of just two games. Unfortunately, Alford’s availability decreased tenfold upon his arrival in Arizona.

An early-standout during his first training camp with the Cardinals, a freak accident while going up to defend a pass led to Alford breaking his leg, ending his 2019 campaign before it could even get started. Sadly, Alford’s 2020 season didn’t go any better. He battled back from injury to return in time for his second training camp with the team, only to suffer a season-ending pectoral tear while making a “routine” pass break up.

Alford’s unfortunate string of events hit hard with head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who informed reporters of the cornerback’s surgery back in March of 2020.

“No one works harder. The physical way he plays at corner, that’s what we wanted,” Kingsbury said. “He’s everything you want in your organization, great leader, great juice, great energy. He worked his ass off to get back and everybody is heartbroken for him.”

The decision to cut Alford leaves an already thin Cardinals secondary even more depleted. Patrick Peterson, Dre Kirkpatrick and Kevin Peterson are all impending free agents. This leaves Byron Murphy Jr. as the only cornerback currently under contract who exceeded 48 snaps in 2020 (796).


Tanner Vallejo Re-Signs with the Cardinals

While not a headline-grabbing move, the decision to retain Vallejo supplies the Cardinals with one of their most productive special teams contributors. A former sixth-round pick out of Boise State, the 26-year-old linebacker played 65% of the team’s special teams snaps in 2020, tying for the team lead in special teams tackles with 15.

Vallejo’s production on the defensive side of the ball was far less noteworthy, although he’s proven capable of stepping into a role when called upon. The California native played 95 defensive snaps this past season (9%), logging 26 tackles and one sack.

Vallejo will look to carve out a defensive role behind projected starters Jordan Hicks and Isaiah Simmons in 2021.

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