Cardinals land coveted LT Veldheer in a hurry

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm •  Published: March 12, 2014

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Finding a left tackle was the Arizona Cardinals' top priority, and it didn't take long for them to land one.

Shortly after the start of free agency signings, the Cardinals reached an agreement with towering Jared Veldheer on a five-year, $37 million contract, with $17 million guaranteed.

Veldheer signed the contract Wednesday, then appeared at a news conference at Cardinals headquarters.

Veldheer, who spent the last four seasons with Oakland, said the Cardinals didn't have to do much to persuade him to come to the desert.

"When I got to free agency, the Cardinals and (general manger) Steve Keim were very aggressive right off the bat," he said. "I looked at a team that is right there on the cusp, a town with great fans. ... Seeing everything that was there, seeing what coach (Bruce) Arians has done, what a great direction the team is heading in, there was nothing that really had to sell me more than looking at that. I know I can help the team."

At 6-foot-8, 321 pounds and only 26 years old, Veldheer seems to have his best years ahead of him. He missed the first 11 games last season with a torn triceps but came back for the last five and says the injury is completely healed.

"I have my strength back to where it was before the injury," Veldheer said. "All the lifts are great. They're all back to where they were. Some things are even stronger than they were before I hurt my arm."

Keim said that, contrary to reports, Veldheer was the Cardinals' No. 1 target once the Raiders chose not to use the franchise tag on him.

"We initially anticipated that the Raiders were going to tag him," Keim said, "so when they did not do that, it was full steam ahead."

Veldheer came highly recommended by Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who played with him in Oakland.

"When Carson came to me, he said, 'We've got to get this guy,'" Arians said. "I trust him totally. He's a hard-working, tough hombre that likes to practice hard and play hard. He fit what we were looking for, so it was easy. It was a no-brainer."

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