Levi Brown's New Contract Shows Arizona Cardinals Belief In Him

You could probably be fairly accurate in saying that Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Levi Brown is the most disliked athlete on an Arizona team. Having been drafted as the fifth overall pick in the 2007 draft, he was expected to be the anchor of the offensive line for years. Instead, there was a lot of disappointment, penalties and sacks allowed.

Kent Somers from the Arizona Republic even learned that as of the midpoint of the season last year the Cardinals were unsure if they wanted to bring him back. But he turned things around in the second half of the season and apparently gave the team reason to believe that he had turned a corner in his career.

Why would you say that? Because of the new contract Brown has. The Cardinals re-signed him after having released him to a five-year deal, and not on the cheap.

He got a brand new, five-year, $30 million deal, including a $7 million signing bonus.

Somers found out the contract breakdown:

2012

Signing bonus: $7 million

Salary: $1 million (fully guaranteed)

Workout bonus: $250,000

Cap number: $2.65 million

2013

Salary: $4.75 million ($4 million guaranteed for injury. Team doesn't have to pay if it cuts him for performance or cap issues. That's not likely due to the large signing bonus.)

Workout bonus: $250,000

Cap number: $6.4 million

2014

Salary: $6 million (no guarantees)

Workout bonus: $250,000

Cap number: $7.65 million

2015

Salary: $5 million (no guarantees)

Workout bonus: $250,000

Cap number: $6.65 million

2016

Salary: $5 million (no guarantees)

Workout bonus: $250,000

Cap number: $6.65 million

Granted, the way the contract is structured, the team could cut him next year and only have paid him for this year. However, with the big signing bonus, cutting him would cause a big salary cap hit.

As fans have made him the scapegoat of pretty much every single offensive struggle the past couple of seasons, perhaps they need to look at him differently.

Yes, he has had struggles, but he turned things around last season. After the team had lived through the Leonard Davis era and let him go after his contract expired, had the team thought that Brown wasn't worth the roster spot, they had the perfect time to let him go. Instead, the coaching staff and the team bring him back on a long-term deal. Those are not the actions of a team that does not believe in a player.

In fact, it is quite the opposite.

Maybe it is time to take a step back and reevaluate. The team brought him back, paid him a lot and might even have him back at left tackle. Had they brought him back on a shorter deal for less money, then we could say it is because of his familiarity with the system and everything.

No. This is a case in which the team believes in a player that the fans clearly do not.

As a fan, I question the move. But being a fan and having learned to respect what the team has been doing in recent years, I also am interested in the fact that Brown is back.

For most fans, 2012 will be a crucial year for Brown and the coaching staff. If Brown reverts to his struggles, it will be very easy to see that the coaching staff is not quite spot on with their talent evaluation. If he plays well, then there will be a large contingency of fans that will likely be glad to say they were wrong.

You can talk more Cardinals over at Revenge of the Birds.

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