Rolle could provide an upgrade over Atari Bigby

Arizona Cardinals’ free safety Antrel Rolle is a name that’s probably on the Green Bay Packers radar.

Why, you ask? Rolle is under contract with the Cardinals.

Well, that contract isn’t going to fly in Arizona. Rolle is due $8 million in base salary and a $4 million roster bonus on March 5. Although Rolle was a Pro Bowler and recorded 72 tackles and four interceptions in 2009, he’s not going to get $12 million from the Cardinals or anyone else in 2010.

So, the Cardinals are in the precarious position of having to rework Rolle’s contract or releasing him by March 5. Thus far, there hasn’t been much movement by the Cardinals’ camp to get a new deal done and as the days tick on, it becomes more likely Rolle will simply be released.

Although the Packers will presumably re-sign starting free safety Nick Collins, who is a restricted free agent, Rolle could offer an intriguing option to replace strong safety Atari Bigby, who’s also a restricted free agent. Bigby has been injury prone throughout his career and his play seemed to tail off towards the end of last season, ultimately making him replaceable.

Rolle (6-0, 208) and Bigby (5-11, 213) are virtually the same size, but Rolle is superior in coverage and has missed only one game the past two seasons, compared with Bigby’s 12.

This isn’t to say converting Rolle to strong safety would be seamless. When healthy and at the top of his game, Bigby is an asset against the run and it’s no certainty the Packers would be able to make up for that absence with Rolle in the defensive backfield. It’s in coverage where Bigby can sometimes be a liability and the Packers’ losses to the Vikings, Steelers and Cardinals showed that the team needs to improve dramatically in coverage to stop top-flight passing teams.

The other wild card here, of course, is if the Packers will pursue Rolle and if Rolle would consider signing with Green Bay.

Rolle played collegiately at Miami and there have been indications that if the Cardinals cut him and the Miami Dolphins have an opening, Rolle would like to return to South Beach.

Still, Rolle is someone to keep an eye on the next few weeks and would be an exciting addition to the Packers’ secondary.

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