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NFL Free Agency: Arizona Cardinals Receive Poor Grade From ESPN

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Adding William Gay did little to help the grade the Arizona Cardinals received for their efforts in free agency.
Adding William Gay did little to help the grade the Arizona Cardinals received for their efforts in free agency.

Now that most of the free agency frenzy has come to a close, most websites are going through and grading how each team was able to do. Some teams were able to add some very key pieces, all while keeping some of their cornerstone players around. Others lost big time, losing their marquee players as well as being unable to replace them.

As this ESPN (insider) article notes, the Cardinals did not lose many big name players, but they also did not add anyone that is going to take this team to the next level.

ESPN/Scouts Inc. writer Matt Williamson gave the Arizona Cardinals a grade of a 'D' for their lack of movement to grab any key offensive lineman or upgrade their roster significantly. Here is some of what Williamson had to say:

Campbell needed to be franchised and is now a cornerstone player in this organization. Gay and Doucet will have starter/depth value, but the Cardinals' offensive line still looks like one of the worst in all of football. It would be surprising if Arizona wasn't proactive in drafting offensive linemen this draft.

Not adding a whole big mix of players via free agency makes sense on a number of levels for the Cards, which is why I disagree with the grade they received. First of all, they were way too tight against the cap to add any big name free agents. Guys like Demetrius Bell and Marcus McNeill still remain options, but they probably won't be joining Arizona given the contracts they are likely asking for.

Also, the Cardinals have typically been a 'build through the draft' type of team. Outside of the 2011 offseason, Arizona has always let the big name guys get signed by other teams, preferring to build their own team through drafting young talent out of college. That seems to be the goal going into 2012 as well.

So if I were to assign the Cardinals a grade, it certainly would not be a 'D', but it wouldn't be an 'A' either. I would give them a 'C+', just because they held on to their important players, such as Calais Campbell, and replaced their losses with fairly equal talent. If anything, many of these free agents will be used as depth anyways, so I think it is somewhat unfair to grade this free agency period without seeing what they do in the draft first.

What are your thoughts on how the Cardinals did during free agency? Did ESPN hit the nail on the head or were they a bit unfair in their grading process? Tell us what grade you would give the team and vote in the poll as well.

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