Now that we’re post-draft and past the meat of free agency, most team-needs have been filled. There are still a few spots where Arizona could use more help and, fortunately, there are still some veteran options available.
Side note: Julio Jones would be fun, but you’re not going to find a WR on this list.
3. DT – The expensive signing of Jordan Phillips last year left Arizona with their hands tied at the position this offseason. With a massive dead cap hit of $14.5mil, they couldn’t cut Phillips. And no one is trading for that contract, so Arizona’s left overpaying and hoping he can stay healthy and and play better.
The good news is Arizona still has $13.5mil available in salary, and a veteran free agent signed at this point isn’t going to break the bank. An experienced vet like Geno Atkins could help set the Cardinals defensive line over the top. The problem with Geno is he’s now 33 years old and hasn’t been able to stay healthy the last couple years. If Keim wanted to go younger he should look at Sheldon Richardson. Both Atkins and Richardson play that penetrating interior defense line role well, but Richardson is 3 years younger and has played in all 16 games the past 3 years. Or Keim could just go with who he knows and sign Vet Corey Peters back for another year.
2. CB – 2 of 3 starting cornerback positions are set. Of course it would be nice if Robert Alford could lock down the 3rd spot but he’s now 32 and hasn’t played since 2018. Cardinals drafted two young corners they’re excited about in Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan but you can’t expect any Day 3 rookie to come in and start from Day 1.
Steven Nelson has been rumored to many teams including Arizona. Still in his prime at 28 years old, Nelson has missed just 2 games over the past 3 years combined, accumulating 7 interceptions, 32 pass deflections, 177 tackles, and 4 tackles for loss in that span. To have willing tacklers at all 3 starting CB spots would be a game changer for this defense.
It’s also possible Keim goes the familiarity route and eventually brings back Dre Kirkpatrick or Jonathan Joseph for depth and experience.
1. TE – Arizona might be the thinnest at this position of any team in the league. Maxx Williams is underutilized in the pass game and is one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the league, but after him the only tight end with any experience is Darrell Daniels (who doubled his career starts last year with eight).
Undrafted tight end Bruno Labelle’s game is reminiscent of Maxx Williams. He’s an extremely effective run-blocker and was a consistent, yet underutilized, pass-catcher at Cincinnati. Additionally, undrafted Austrian Bernhard Seikovits has impressive athleticism for his size and seems to have the right mindset to succeed. However, a large learning curve has to be expected with undrafted rookies.
Cards were rumored to have interest in top Free Agents like Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, but after missing out on all the top free agents, letting Kyler’s main pass-catching tight end walk and not drafting a replacement… a Keim-Time trade feels imminent…
A tight end like Zach Ertz could be amazing for Kyler, who loved his big pass-catching TEs at Oklahoma. Ertz had a down year after missing the first six weeks with an ankle injury. There are rumors the Eagles could cut him to save $8.5mil, which could also be a reason he’d be fairly cheap in a trade.
If Keim can’t pull-off one of his infamous steals, there’s still a few decent Free Agents left with starting experience. At 29 years old, Trey Burton could be a solid addition. A bit stuck behind Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox on the depth chart, Burton had 28 catches for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 4 starts last year. Jesse James is an even younger option (27) and arguably the most well-rounded tight end available.
According to Sharpe Football Stats, Kliff ran his offense out of “12 Personnel” (1 RB, 2 TEs) 30% of the time last season. In 2019, he used 2-3 TE formations 25% of the time. While that number could go down next year, it’s hard to imagine it changing drastically. Which leads one to believe another tight end will be added.
With the release of QB Cole McDonald, the Cardinals have a spot available on the 90-man roster. Look for the Cardinals to potentially fill that spot with one of these three positions.
Give me your thoughts @Cardinals_ATB where you think AZ’s biggest needs remain and who you would like to see added to the roster.