WEDNESDAY, 11:43am: The Cardinals’ five-year deal with Iupati is now official, tweets Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
TUESDAY, 4:24pm: Iupati’s deal is worth $40MM over five years with incentives that can take the total package up to $41MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. In total, the deal has $22.5MM in guaranteed cash.
MONDAY, 5:40pm: Free agent guard Mike Iupati has told people he plans to sign with the Cardinals, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Iupati was widely viewed as the top available interior offensive lineman of the offseason. Financial terms of the possible agreement are not yet known.
The Raiders were said to be “hot after” Iupati and he also had serious interest from the Bills and Jets. The Cardinals, meanwhile, weren’t really mentioned as a leading suitor for his services. The marriage makes quite a bit of sense, however, as Arizona could use a boost on the interior of their offensive line. That’s a role that 2013 first-round choice Jonathan Cooper was expected to fill, but so far he hasn’t realized his potential. Assuming Iupati stays on the left side, Cooper could wind up shifting over to right guard.
The three-time Pro Bowler graded out as the 14th best guard in the NFL out of 78 qualified players, according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Iupati, a former first-round pick who’s started missed only five games during his career, is regarded as a much better run-blocker than pass-blocker. The Cardinals, therefore, could look to add a running back in the coming days, and have been tied to both Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray.
Iupati will be just the latest player to leave the Bay Area in recent days. Justin Smith and Patrick Willis are expected to retire, Frank Gore will sign with the Eagles, Stevie Johnson will be released, and Michael Crabtree isn’t expected to be retained.