Cardinals Sign Sean Weatherspoon
After five seasons with the Falcons, Sean Weatherspoon is heading west to Arizona after signing a one-year contract worth a reported $4 million. The veteran linebacker gets a prove-it deal after spending 2014 on injured reserve with a ruptured Achilles tendon and missing a good chunk of 2013 due to injury.
Weatherspoon comes with loads of injury baggage, having only played 47 out of a possible 80 games in his pro career. However, when healthy, he has proven to be a versatile linebacker capable of staying on the field for all three downs.
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In his only full season of play back in 2011, Weatherspoon racked up 115 (82 solo) and an impressive four sacks. Though he struggled a bit in coverage that season, his strong play against the run propelled him to finish as PFF’s No. 5 4-3 ouside linebacker out of 45 qualifiers. The question is whether the Cardinals are getting the 2011 version of Weatherspoon, or the oft-injured version we’ve seen over the last three seasons?
One thing is for certain – the Cardinals need help at linebacker. Just two years ago, Arizona seemed to be set at the position, fielding Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington on the inside. Dansby jumped ship for Cleveland in last year’s free agency and Washington’s off-the-field issues led to a one-year ban with the potential for another suspension looming in 2015.
The Cards relied on veteran Larry Foote last season, but he’s since retired and moved into coaching. Incumbent Kevin Minter entered the league with high expectations, but his abilities have yet to materialize. He proved a liability in coverage last season, and was relegated to a two-down role.
So there’s certainly opportunity for Weatherspoon to step right in to an every-down role on the inside for Arizona. Weatherspoon has never been a high-volume tackler, though he is capable of topping triple-digits. Still, his IDP ceiling is capped in the mid-LB2 range.
Weatherspoon’s departure from Atlanta essentially solidifies Paul Worrliow as an every-down player. Worrilow remains a back-end LB1. At the other inside linebacker position, we saw the Falcons rotate between Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo last season. It’s likely both take a back seat to newly signed Justin Durant, who showed with the Cowboys that he’s still capable of playing three downs. If Durant sees a subpackage role, he’ll be on the IDP radar among the LB3s.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor and resident IDP maven of PFF Fantasy.