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Cardinals face a tough decision on Levi Brown

Arizona Cardinals v Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Head coach Ken Whisenhunt of the Arizona Cardinals talks with Levi Brown #75 before the start of their game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 18, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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Competent left tackles rarely if ever become available in free agency. And while Levi Brown, the fifth overall pick in the 2007, wasn’t regarded as a competent left (or right) tackle early in his career, Brown has become in the past two seasons a much more consistent performer.

As he enters the final year of his rookie deal, Browns is carrying the kind of inflated cap number that will cause a team to either extend the deal and reduce the burden -- or cut the player loose.

Per a league source, momentum currently is pointing toward the latter. With a $6 million roster bonus due on March 12 and an $8.3 million base salary and a $250,000 workout bonus, the Cardinals have more than $14.5 million in cap space devoted to Brown.

Several years ago, the Cardinals found themselves in a similar situation with receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The two sides worked out a long-term deal that gave the team cap relief, and that gave Fitzgerald a four-year, $40 million contract.

This time around, the smart money is on Brown being cut by March 12 and hitting the market at a time when more than a few teams have needs a left tackle.