Acquisitions. The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in need of making some after the 2011 season culminates. I covered the Cardinals expected free agents, it can be found here. Now I plan to delve a little deeper. Look at a few key areas the front office needs to address by plucking the best from other teams.
Hit the jump to read more.
The team has struggled so far this year. The OT on both sides needs upgrading. A true # 2 WR needs to be found. Dan Williams suffered a broken arm late in the season, and while the combo of Nick Eason and David Carter at NT has been a nice surprise, new blood needs to be added to the position to mentor the young men.
So, who's on the market?
Let's start at OT. I shudder when I see Levi Brown and Brandon Keith strap on pads and fill the LT and RT spots. The national attention we get usually centers on these guys making the sack artist look like Superman as the QB get sacked. Both positions need an upgrade. In a weak positional class of 2012, the most viable left tackle on the market appears to be Demetrius Bell of the Buffalo Bills. The potential to play the LT position is there. The bad news is that he struggles to stay healthy. But at 6'5" and 311 pounds, he could provide a band-aid upgrade to a poorly manned position. His current salary of 500K isn't what he'll command, but the Cards could gamble for a one to two years deal with a well termed contract.
That addresses the LT. From there things get shaky. I really dislike Brandon Keith at RT. Jeff Bridges is hardly better. I'd like to slide Levi over to RT, but not at the money he's making now. If he refuses to renegotiate, smile and wish him good luck. This does pose the Keith/Bridges quandary. Another band-aid move could be to sign Kareem McKenzie of the New York Giants. He is a cornerstone of the G-Men's line, and at 6'6 and 330 pounds, but he is also 32 years old. Because of this, he is best suited to hold the pass for a year until the Cards determine a long term solution. Pricey, but in the world where win is king, money begets money.
Lets flip to the other side of the ball. Defensive line. To be a dominant defense, you need to stop the run. The Cards do a well enough job, but they aren't elite. Enter two names. Aubrayo Franklin formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and now of the New Orleans Saints. He went from a 3 - 4 NT to a 4 - 3 DT. Bad move, he's struggled in the new D. Guess what system the Cards run? A 3 - 4 you say? No way! Remember how dominant the 49ers run D is? So, we pony up the dough to pull a ill used Franklin from the Saints, insert him into the lineup ahead of young Dan Williams who can learn the craft from a true Juggernaut at NT. Imagine Calais Campbell, Aubrayo Franklin, and Darnell Dockett all lined up against you, with our young LB corps. Williams learns the position, Carter backs up Campbell and the defense stops the run. Once again his age is a factor, he is a healthy 31. Combine that with the fact that he's dropped the NT weight he played with in San Fran.
So who else could the Cards target at NT for 2012? The second of the two names I give you is...Paul Soliai of the Miami Dolphins. This will be a pricey pickup, but again, money begets money. Soliai is a mountainous brute of a wall. At 6'4" and 355 pounds, he would be the NT for the foreseeable future as he is only 27 years old. Watch the man play. Money well spent.
And last of the Cards needs, a WR #2. Andre Roberts strikes fear into the hearts of no one. Larry Fitzgerald still has fourteen men covering him at every play because the other receivers don't make the plays needed when the coverage is favorable. The list of available players is fairly deep this year, but lets narrow down to a few names.
- WR Steve Johnson Buffalo Bills 6'2" 210 pounds 25 years old
- WR Pierre Garcon Indianapolis Colts 6' 210 25 years old
- WR Robert Meachem New Orleans Saints 6'2" 210 pounds 27 years old
- WR Mario Maningham New York Giants 6' 185 pounds 25 years old
Each of the above athletes could offer the Cardinals QB of the future a viable second option to go across Larry Fitzgerlad and pull away coverage. Each has the ability to stretch the field. Each can make the big play. The great news is that the splendid bumper crop of WRs will allow the Cards to pull a great second threat at a relatively effect price.
The Cardinals showed themselves to be middle of the pack players. To separate themselves from the middle and take the step to elite for 2012, moves will need to be made. It will be interesting to see how management plays the off season.