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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Revenge of the birds: Arizona Cardinals release injured LaRon Byrd and Dan Giordano

By on 4/06/2014 12:45:00 PM

In the frenzy and fury of the 2014 NFL free agency period, the Arizona Cardinals have been just as active as the other 31 teams in the league.  Their latest move came on Friday, as they released two of their own, according to their team website. Wide receiver LaRon Byrd and linebacker Daniel Giordano are now on the market and looking for other franchises to pursue their careers.  Neither of these two athletes saw the playing field in 2013 due to injuries.

As many players are signing big contracts and dodging the ever-present vulturous sports media, Byrd and Giordano are now putting together their resumes and hunting for a new team.  Sidelined for all of last year, both players will have to do a lot of work for a chance to make a roster for any of the other 31 NFL teams.

Neither of these two releases came as a surprise, as Byrd and Giordano did not play one snap last year, sidelined due to injuries.  Byrd suffered a concussion during preseason last August and was placed on the injured reserve list before 2013 even began.  Giordano hurt his toe in training camp last July, and the team put him on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, which rendered him inactive for the entire season.

At one time the Cardinals had high hopes for wide receiver Byrd, comparing to Larry Fitzgerald due to his body structure and his style of play.  A four-year player from the University of Miami, Byrd posted favorable numbers in college, accounting for 1,254 yards with seven touchdowns in four seasons. As an undrafted free agent in 2012, Arizona signed the 6'4" 220 pound Byrd after seeing him at Miami's pro day. He ran a 4.45 second 40-yard dash and the Cardinals believed that with his kind of size, he could potentially match up well against the bigger cornerbacks in the NFL.

Instead of the "little Fitzgerald" the Cardinals had hoped for, Byrd played in just four games as a rookie in 2012 and had one reception for eight yards for the season.  To make matters worse, the concussion he suffered last summer had such lingering effects that team doctors refused to let him play for the entire 2013 season. It was clearly severe enough and the symptoms lasted long enough to keep him off the field and away from the team for the duration of the season.
Linebacker Giordano faced a similar scenario, signing with Arizona last year as a rookie free agent out of Cincinnati. As a starter for Cincinnati, he posted decent numbers with 112 tackles and 16.5 sacks in four years.  After suffering a toe injury during the offseason, Giordano was never able to come off of the PUP list, resulting in a rookie year without ever taking the field.

The releasing of these two players does not necessarily mean they are now healthy. According to NFL rules, a player isn't allowed to be released during the season if he's on injured reserve unless he and the team agree to an injury settlement. Once the new league year began this March, all players who finished the 2013 season on injured reserved became active, meaning they are eligible to be released.

It's never easy to see young players watch their season, and possibly their career, end because of injuries. Especially a head injury.  In Byrd's case, there's a good chance he is still suffering from the concussion and unfortunately that is a terrible and scary situation for the 24-year-old receiver.

In regards to Giordano's toe, hopefully he will be able to heal and move on to another franchise. Solid linebackers are always in high demand, and since he is only 24 years old, he is still young enough to potentially make a huge impact for another team.

On Twitter:  @alewnes7


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