As he assessed his decision to leave the Washington Redskins and sign with the Arizona Cardinals, linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said the move was anything but clear-cut.

It was difficult because the Redskins were the team he broke into the league with and went on to develop into a Pro Bowl special teams ace. The decision was easy, however, because the Redskins’ financial restrictions caused by the $18 million salary-cap penalty meant Washington couldn’t compete with the offers of other teams that desired his services.

The deal Alexander signed with Arizona is worth $9.5 million over three years and includes $3 million in guaranteed money. The Redskins offer was significantly less. Originally, the team had offered a deal that included $2.6 million in guaranteed money. But on Monday of this week, after the team learned that there was no chance they were recouping any of that $18 million, Alexander said that the offer dropped to $1.4 million. The difference was just too significant. Alexander had said all along that he was willing to take less to re-sign with Washington. But he added, “it’s got to be close, though.”

But the two offers weren’t close.

“It was very hard, but the cap made it easier, from a financial standpoint,” Alexander said in a telephone interview late Wednesday night. “The reality is, the cap messed us up. They wanted to keep Fred [Davis], they wanted to re-sign me, wanted to be able to keep [DeAngelo] Hall. But they couldn’t. It’s hard because as a player, you do everything they ask, and then they can’t make a commitment to you.