Deuce Lutui has improved each year since joining the Cardinals as a second-round pick in 2006. Originally sloppy in his footwork and hand technique, he polished himself into Arizona’s most consistent blocker last season. Lutui is still not quite nimble enough to make every lead or pull as a run-blocker, but he knows how to compensate by creating good angles without having to over-extend. Most impressive is the nasty way he finishes blocks.
That said, Lutui could find himself in a backup role for the first time in his NFL career. He’s been away from the club all offseason, refusing to sign his RFA tender until today. His hope of receiving a long-term contract is understandable but, given the team’s current economy and tenuous CBA situation, misguided.
Because free agent acquisition Alan Faneca immediately took the left guard position upon signing in Arizona, versatile veteran Reggie Wells finds himself vying for Lutui’s right guard job. So does less-noted free agent pickup Rex Hadnot (another versatile veteran, by the way).
We often see players avoid offseason team activities and workouts. But aside from a friendly demotion early in training camp, rarely do we see these players lose their starting job. No promises, but Lutui could change that. (The bet here is that he begins training camp on the second string but manages to crack the starting lineup sometime during the preseason.)
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl