Yesterday's pass rusher poll on Mario Williams produced plenty of results, but overall, the fans do not seem to think he is destined for Arizona. 58% of the voters said that although he would provide a significant upgrade on the defense and give the team a much needed presence to get to the QB, he would cost way too much. Williams will become one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL and given the lack of cap space the Arizona Cardinals have, I am not sure he will be calling the desert his home anytime soon.
The player we are going to look at today will also cost a lot, but at least there is room to negotiate with him. John Abraham, currently a defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, is reportedly seeking $12 million per year for his services. Should the Cardinals fork over the cash to bring him on board?
The first thing that we need to get out of the way is: can Abraham even play as a 3-4 outside linebacker? While in Atlanta, he was found with his fingers on the ground most of the time, lining up as a defensive end in the Falcons' 4-3 scheme.
Based on some of the stats from Pro Football Focus, Abraham might be able to make the transition to Ray Horton's 3-4 defense. Over the past four seasons, Abraham has gone into coverage 156 times and registered a +7.0 rating in that area. As PFF's Nathan Jahnke pointed out to me, the Cardinals tend to use their outside linebackers as pass rushers on about 2/3 of all of the snaps taken. With that said, Abraham's pass rushing skills would then offset his coverage deficiencies anyhow.
As a pass rusher, it doesn't get much better than Abraham. In the last two seasons, he has registered 119 total QB pressures. Last season alone, he had 11 sacks, 8 QB hits and 40 pressures. This is a guy that knows how to get to the opposing quarterback and cause chaos in the backfield.
Abraham is also a decent run defender. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of +6.9 in that category. He has the ability to shed blockers and with great speed, he can pursue the ball carrier and create disruption.
There are two things that would prevent the Cards from signing a player of Abraham's caliber. One is the money. The team will need to pay Calais Campbell soon and they already have guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson, Kevin Kolb, etc. on the books. Abraham may prove to be too costly. Secondly, Abraham is 34 years old. While he is still productive at his age, thoughts of Joey Porter immediately enter my mind. This team is trying to build a young defense and Abraham would not be an assist in that goal.
In my opinion, I think the Cardinals should window shop with Abraham. Give his agent a few calls, feel out where they are with contract talks and go from there. I doubt any team pays him $12+ million per year, but you never know. If that's the case, there's no chance I touch him.
What do you think? Should the Cardinals put a bid in on John Abraham once free agency begins? Let your voice be heard in the comments section and vote in the poll.