PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 23: LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers jumps over Robert Turner #75 of the New York Jets after a sack during the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The 2010 season hasn't quite come to an end, but for the Arizona Cardinals their plans are already geared towards next year. It's justifiable considering the only teams that matter at this point are the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. Soon we'll witness the 45th Super Bowl and than quietly forget about this season. When that time comes and goes, every team will begin scrambling to name which players they will keep, and those they will part ways with.
For Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves, they have the uneasy task of dealing with the free agents and more importantly -- their personal agents. They have
the reputations of blood-sucking vampires their client's best interest in mind during contract negotiations. They also want to hear offers from every team in order to get the best deal out there, also making the signing period frantic for both the teams and their fans. This offseason the Cardinals have their work cut out for them. The offensive line, quarterback, and linebackers are all the areas in need of a change. Determining who fits the bill and who can hit a home run makes for an interesting opening week to free agency. The following is a list of players that will become free agents this offseason that could be viable options for Arizona:
|2010 - LaMarr Woodley||16||10||68||2||22||0||35||15||50|
Woodley had a down year in terms of his and the Steelers expectations. That's not to say that he was a disappointment. He finished the season with 10 sacks and 2 interceptions at outside linebacker in the Steelers 3-4 defense. At just 26-years of age, he could be a stalwart on the Cardinals defense for many years. With familiar faces in Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, and possibly Keith Butler at defensive coordinator, the desert may be appealing to Pro Bowl'er. Yanking Woodley from the Steelers' grasp will be easier said than done however. Pittsburgh loves what he brings to the table and will be prepared to keep the pass-rush specialist in black and yellow.
The Saints have experienced the most and best success of their franchise history in just the last two seasons. A large part of that is due to the consistency along the offensive line. After spending big money on their Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans last offseason, keeping the consistency won't be an easy task. With fellow guard Carl Nicks also making the Pro Bowl, the Saints would be hard-pressed to pass on re-signing him. Bushrod anchored the Saints offensive line this past season -- a unit that allowed only 26 sacks. It wasn't his best year, but after only four seasons in the league, he has a lot of room to grow and would allow Levi Brown to convert to offensive guard.
|2010 - Michael Vick||12||100.2||233||372||62.6||3018||251.5||8.1||21||6||100||676||56.3||6.8||9||34||210|
Scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, Vick will draw the attention of many teams in dire need of a quarterback. Of them, the Eagles will be the likely candidate to re-sign the revitalized star. As they say however, it ain't over till it's over. If Vick does hit the market, the Cardinals should and will likely contend to bring him to the desert. Regardless of what happens, it will shape the Cardinals quarterback needs. If Vick re-signs with Philadelphia, Kevin Kolb will request a trade, also drawing the Cardinals' interest.
Light will be 33-years of age when next season begins, giving Cardinals fans memories of Alan Faneca's past season. An aging offensive lineman only works as a temporary fix, but even a sub-par Light is better than most offensive tackles in the league. He'd likely sign relatively cheap on a two year deal and would allow Levi Brown to slide into Faneca's old position. As a seasoned veteran, Light can still provide adequate pass and run protection.
|2010 - Manny Lawson||16||2.5||22||1||0||0||44||9||53|
The Cardinals clearly don't have a problem bringing in talent from San Francisco after they flirted with the idea of signing Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator. Lawson has played well in the 49ers 3-4 scheme. He's young and could bring the same fire he's played with in the bay area. With Joey Porter and Clark Haggans approaching the ends of their careers, Lawson could give the Cardinals some valued youth at linebacker.
|2010 - Mathias Kiwanuka||3||4||47||0||0||0||9||2||11|
Before I'm hung for liking the potential signing of Kiwanuka, let me say that it would only work if the Cardinals switched back to the 4-3 defense, or if he switched to a hybrid defensive lineman/outside linebacker -- both valid possibilities. Kiwanuka has played both positions for the Giants and recently excelled in a starting role when Osi Umenyiora hit the injured reserve in 2008. That year he recorded a career-high with 8 sacks. This past season was injury-riddled for Mathius, who missed 13 games and only registered 4 sacks. Be that as it may, Kiwanuka's ability to play multiple positions and rush the passer may tempt the Cardinals brass to pursue the 27-year old.
Other Free Agents:
Kamerion Wimbley(LB) - The Cardinals reportedly expressed interest in Wimbley before the acquired Joey Porter last offseason. Now a free agent, the former first round pick could land in Arizona.
Kirk Morrison(LB) - Morrison was pursued by many teams late in last year's free agency period. After one season in Jacksonville, he's available for the taking. Morrison has the charisma to lead the defense.
Marc Bulger(QB) - Rumors have surfaced about a possible Bulger-to-Arizona scenario since the 2010 offseason. Now that he's set for free agency once again, we may hear some of the same this time around.
Darren Colledge(OG) - After a average season in Green Bay and several young guards vying for the left guard position, Colledge may see himself in new colors in 2011. He's be a considerable step up in talent in Arizona as well.
Bo Scaife(TE) - Scaife has shown flashes of brilliance in Tennessee during his career, but after this past season the Titans may pass on re-signing the 6-year pro. With Ben Patrick hitting free agency, this could be the Cardinals chance to bring in a big-play tight end.
Lance Moore(WR) - It may seem odd for the Cardinals to pursue a receiver, but Early Doucet may have seen his last days in Arizona. Moore is a proven winner from New Orleans and would play well in the slot behind Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald.
Free agency has proven to be popular spectacle every NFL offseason, with big name signings and shocking releases. This year will prove to be no different -- assuming their is a 2011 season. For the Cardinals, this will be their golden opportunity to right the ship and prepare to take back the West next season. Which players do you believe the Cardinals should pursue?