TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals have signed free agent offensive lineman Justin Pugh to a five-year contract.
The 6-foot-5, 311-pound Pugh — who has plays guard or tackle — spent the past five seasons with the New York Giants, where he started 63 games. Pugh was a first-round draft pick — 19th overall — out of Syracuse in 2013. The deal is worth $45 million with an average $9 million annual salary.
He said at an introductory news conference Saturday that he was drawn by “the culture” of the Cardinals.
“The culture that they have, the culture they had going on, the way they run this facility and program, I had no idea,” Pugh said. “So, to come out here and meet them. I was blown away. I’m an East Coast guy, born and raised in the Northeast, went to Syracuse, been playing in New York for five years. I was a little bit nervous coming out West. They put me at ease.”
The 27-year-old lineman has started 36 games at right tackle, 26 games at left guard and one game at left tackle. He said he expects to play guard with the Cardinals, probably on the right side.
He is the second offensive lineman the Cardinals have added in free agency. The team signed former Cincinnati tackle Andre Smith to a two-year contract on Friday.
Pugh finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury that did not require surgery. But he said he expects no problems in that area.
“I wasn’t concerned with it at all,” he said. “I went to Dr. (Robert) Watkins, who is probably regarded as one of the top back specialists in the country, and to hear it from him what I have going on, nothing structurally, no surgery required. It was a muscle thing.”
He said he probably tried to come back from the injury too soon and that landed him on injured reserve.
Pugh went to college with Arizona All-Pro outside linebacker Chandler Jones. He said both vowed to be drafted in the first round when they were at Syracuse and both were.
Pugh acknowledged one concern about moving to the desert.
“Snakes,” he said. “I was like ‘Tell me I’m not going to have rattlesnakes on my front yard, and I’m good. I don’t mess with snakes.’”