I've decided for this lazy Friday to look at our possible UFAs (Unrestricted Free Agents) for the upcoming off-season. Obviously, this is all dependent on the moves that the FO makes from now until Free Agency. However, it's always fun to look ahead, and distract ourselves from the on-the-field mess that is our beloved Arizona Cardinals.
Levi Brown - The infamous 5th overall draft pick of 2007 is not technically an UFA for 2012, but all indications show that he will be cut. As many of you may have seen, Kent Somers tweeted:
“Brown’s salary is due to increase from $5 million to $8.3 million in 2012, the final year of the contract. If he’s on the roster, he’s due a bonus of $9.675 million. That would bring his salary-cap figure to nearly $17 million.”
As puzzling as some of the moves that the Cardinals FO has made, there is no way that Levi is getting paid that kind of money, when you can buy a pylon from any sporting good store for $5. The only way i see Levi coming back is if a new deal is negotiated.
(from this point on all players listed will be UFAs in 2012, i won't speculate other players being cut)
Calais Campbell - Campbell is our most talented possible free agent. He, with the help of Dockett being contently double-teamed, has been a very good player in our 3-4 defense, collecting 16 sacks in his tenure with the Cardinals, against Dockett's 16.5 sacks during the same time period. Using ProFootballFocus's PRP rating (Pass Rush Productivity) Campbell has been in the top 15 for Interior Defensive Lineman since he came into the league. Our two alliterative defensive linemen, DD & CC, are the reason that our D-line is considered one of our strengths, and losing Campbell would be a step in the wrong direction. However, I am concerned by how much money he expects to get in a new contract. The key to any free agent signing is value.
Early Doucet - Now we are faced with evaluating the enigma of Early Doucet. As we all know, we are very thin is the WR department. When Anquan was traded, we all hoped that Doucet could fill his shoes and become a poor man's Boldin, and up to this season he has slightly disappointed. He has shown flashes of 'Anquan'ness, most notably the Packers-Cardinals playoff shoot-out, but has failed to produce consistently. However this season, Early has taken a big step in the right direction. He already has set a new career high in receiving yards with 359, and is on pace for 820 yards this season. He has become one of Kolb's favourite targets, and losing him to free agency would eliminate the chemistry the two have formed. In my mind, he wouldn't demand a ridiculous contract, maybe in the area of $1-1.5 million.
Those three players are, in my opinion, the only players that would cause a significant impact if the were or were not re-signed. There are some other notable players who could hit free agency:
Jay Feely - Kickers are easily replaced, and i have lost faith in Feely's ability to consistently hit anything beyond 35 yards out. I don't see him coming back, but we'll always have that magical game against Denver, right?
Clark Haggans - Old man Haggans has been serviceable this year, but he's starting to lose time to Cho & Scho. He may come back as a back-up who is familiar with the system, but he seems to be on a steady decline at this point in his career. Probably best to cut ties with him, especially if we draft the OLB we so desperately need.
Brandon Keith - Poor Brandon. He's like Levi Brown, without the slight run blocking upside. We seriously need to draft some OTs too. He might be brought back as a back-up if he's cheap enough, but i would prefer to just cut ties with half of the worst tackle combination in the NFL.
Richard Marshall - Put simply, he just shouldn't be lining up against elite, or just fast, receivers. He gets burned by the speed guys, Wallace and Torrey Smith, and gets man-handled by strength receivers, Boldin. I think he could be adequate if he's line up against a normal slot receiver. Hopefully Toler can come back, and push Marshall into a position were he won't be playing man coverage against the great NFL wide-outs. I wouldn't be opposed to him being brought back.
There you have it. Just a quick summation of our possible UFAs. I'm glad we locked up our elite players, and don't have to dish out serious dough to keep our own players. We should be under the salary cap enough to keep some of these guys, and make an impact in signing other free agents. Who do you think we, out of these players, is the highest priority to re-sign, if any?