The Cardinals, looking to clear some salary cap space and beginning the roster overhaul with a new general manager and new head coach, began making some moves Friday by releasing cornerback William Gay and linebacker Stewart Bradley.
The moves will slice approximately $7 million off the Cards' salary cap, putting them in compliance with a cap that has been set at $123 million, up from $120.6 million of a season ago.
Gay was signed as a free agent in 2012, inking a two-year contract. He started 15 games in 2012, making 60 tackles with two interceptions, a sack and three forced fumbles but was never viewed as a long-term solution at starter across from Patrick Peterson.
Bradley was a bigger disappointment. Signed to a five-year, $25 million contract after the 2011 lockout, he was expected to come in and supplant Paris Lenon as a starter. Instead, Lenon continued to play well and impress coaches while Bradley never earned much playing time. By the end of last season, he was often relegated to special teams, with Reggie Walker the one spelling Lenon or Daryl Washington at inside linebacker.
Bradley had just nine tackles last season, and seven came in the regular-season finale after Lenon left early with an injury. He did have six tackles on special teams.
There is much to determine for the Cards now at both linebacker and in the secondary. Walker and Washington are the only key inside linebackers under contract with Bradley's departure and Lenon's impending free agency. The Cards not only let Gay go, but cornerbacks Michael Adams and Greg Toler, along with safeties Rashad Johnson and James Sanders, are unrestricted free agents.
Bradley took a pay cut, from a $5 million 2012 salary to $2.5 million, just to stay on the roster. His salary was due to be at $5 million again this season. Gay had been scheduled to make $3.2 million after a playing time escalator bumped his salary well over the original $1.475 million.
The moves also buy some time for the Cardinals to make other roster decisions, should they choose to wait. The $13.5 million cap number of quarterback Kevin Kolb now fits within the cap, although with Kolb due a $2 million roster bonus around the time of the new league year, the team will likely want to work out a new deal sooner rather than later.