The Arizona Cardinals certainly made a splash in free agency this year, signing eight different players to be apart of the team for at least the 2013 season. And of those eight free agents, according to Cardinals GM Steve Keim, 7 were in their top 9.
On the 7-of-top-9 FA signings: That was Cards' FA board, which includes potential salary, fit, etc. Not just best players out there period.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) March 18, 2013
Urban brings up an important point. Just because they set a free agent board up like they do for the NFL Draft doesn't mean they are the same. In the draft, teams like to select the best players available. The same cannot be said for free agency. Instead, the Cardinals signed the players that they thought would best fit on their football team and would not be a burden on the cap.
As for the two that they missed out on, all we can do is speculate. As both Urban and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic said, it could be assumed that Greg Toler was one of them. After that, I would guess that the ninth would be either Reggie Bush or Rey Maualuga. I could be wrong, but those names make sense. If it was Maualuga, that means Jasper Brinkley, the inside linebacker they signed after meeting with Maualuga, was not in their top 9.
What we can say with confidence is that this was a new, unique strategy for the Cardinals to employ during the free agency period. Never during the Ken Whisenhunt era did we see the team create a 'big board' for free agents and sign who they needed/wanted based off of that.
Kudos to the Cards for the signings and getting the players they wanted. Hopefully that translates to more success on the football field.