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Cards cut 3 players, clear $5.5M in salary cap space

The Arizona Cardinals have released three of their biggest free-agent acquisitions in recent years – including running back Edgerrin James – to clear about $5.55 million in salary cap space.

James’ departure Tuesday was expected, but the releases of cornerback Rod Hood and outside linebacker Travis LaBoy were a bit surprising because they and James helped Arizona make its run to the Super Bowl last season.

The Cardinals were about $1.2 million under the salary cap before the moves. They will need the additional space if they are to re-sign strong safety Adrian Wilson, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and receiver Anquan Boldin.

“It’s never easy to release veteran players who have contributed to the team’s success,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said in a statement. “But like every decision we make, it simply comes down to what is in the best interest of our football team and what gives us the best chance for success.”

James became expendable when the team drafted running back Beanie Wells in the first round and LaRod Stephens-Howling in the seventh. Arizona also took two outside linebackers and a cornerback.

Releasing James, who signed in 2006, saves the team about $5 million under the salary cap. Hood, who signed in 2007, was due to make $3 million, and the club will take a $1.5 million hit against the cap to account for a portion of his signing bonus.

Releasing LaBoy, who signed last year, was more expensive. The club will take a $6.1 million hit against the cap, about $1.45 million more than if he had been on the team. But the release of James, Hood and LaBoy wasn’t all about money. It was about performance, too.

James, who signed a four-year, $30 million deal in 2006, never fit into Whisenhunt’s system. LaBoy, 28, was brought in to bolster the pass rush, but he was hampered by a variety of injuries. The selections of Cody Brown in the second round and Will Davis in the sixth made him expendable, coaches said.

Hood, who signed in 2007, started in both of his seasons in Arizona. After a solid 2007 season, he struggled last year, and the club signed Bryant McFadden in free agency to replace Hood as a starter.

> NFL notes, Page 4C

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