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2013 NFL free agents: What available skill position players could help the Arizona Cardinals?

A look at who might be able to add some skill to the skill positions in Arizona.

Christian Petersen

I'm back to play Armchair General Manager [AGM], again. This is SO much fun! And, I surprisingly enjoy all the comments. Even the few trolls. So, ROTB Best and Brightest, keep up the good work! You are noticed and appreciated.

OK, time to stop the boot licking and get on with the article. Today's subjects are the free agent needs of WR, TE, RB and FB.

Let's start with the wide receivers. The Cardinals have typically carried six of them on the roster at any one time. This is a good number, and the AGM is going to continue that practice. The Cards currently have five: LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Josh Cribbs (not officially signed yet, but reportedly is going to) and Kerry Taylor signed. I don't know much about Taylor. Fitz, Floyd and Roberts are a very good 1-2-3 punch. Keep Roberts in the slot. What can be said about Fitz that already hasn't been said? I've run out of adjectives. Floyd needs to play more. And I am on the record as saying that Byrd wasn't given much of a chance to strut his stuff last year. So let's get him more snaps, please. Cribbs will also be used as a kickoff and/or punt returner. So, we need just one, possibly two, WR to fill out the roster. When it comes to WRs, many times a rookie can play just as well as a veteran. So, the pressure is on the veterans to lower their monetary expectations, especially in these tight cap times.

So who is on the street, looking for a job? Some old friends are out there: Steve Breaston (last with the Chiefs), Early Doucet (no thanks), and Derek Hagan (ex-ASU stud). Breaston would fit very well again, if he can take less money than he expects. Some big names are still out there: Randy Moss, Brandon Lloyd, Deion Branch, Austin Collie, Braylon Edwards, Devery Henderson, Laurent Robinson, and Brandon Stokely. All of these names have problems associated with them; age, injuries, attitude problems, and off-field problems.

The AGM would resign Breaston for the right amount, for one or two years. If Cribbs can recover sufficiently from his knee problems, I think we are set. I wouldn't waste a mid or low round draft pick on a WR this year, unless someone spectacularly good falls to the 5th, 6th or 7th round.

Tight end

Tight ends fill a dual role on most teams: they provide extra blockers at the point of attack, and catch passes over the middle. Last few years, the Cardinals used TEs like they were extra offensive linemen. They rarely were thrown to. Other teams have proven that a TE can be an effective offensive weapon (see Wes Welker or Tony Gonzalez, just to name two). Cardinals have four TEs on the roster now: Jim Dray, Rob Housler, Jeff King, and Kory Sperry. There is no need to carry more than four. TEs are, by definition, really tough guys that absorb all kinds of beatings at the hands of a defense. All of the Cards TEs have been hampered by injuries over the years. TEs also fulfill specialty roles; King is a better blocker than receiver, Housler the opposite. Dray hasn't played enough (that I have seen, anyway) for me to put a ‘blocker' or ‘receiver' label on him. Same for Sperry.

There are currently 23 TEs on the street. Some we have seen before and don't wish to see again: Leonard Pope, a high draft pick of the Cardinals a few years ago, was a swinging gate allowing a direct path to the QB. When parked next to D'Anthony Batiste, the right side of the line was a toll-free freeway to the QB. Dallas Clark, Kevin Boss, and Chris Cooley all have good years left in them. However, the Cards aren't looking for a starter, since Housler ably fills that bill.

As the AGM, I wouldn't go out of my way to draft a TE in this years draft. Unless, like I said before, someone with spectacular skills falls out of the sky into the lower rounds.

My vision as the AGM is to first improve the offensive line. Then get a pass rusher and an inside linebacker. And the 2013 Draft is stocked precisely this way.

Running back

The Cardinals have a real conundrum at this position. They dumped Beanie Wells, which was well deserved, in my opinion. They have the injury prone Ryan Williams, who will probably be receiving his last chance in the NFL this season. If he gets hurt again, with another multiple game injury, then adios. The AGM has no time for a really great guy that can't stay on the field (like Todd Heap).

The Cardinals have Rashard Mendenhall, William Powell, and Alfonso Smith, in addition to Williams. Injury-wise, the Cards have exchanged Wells for Mendenhall. The difference is that Mendenhall has a better attitude that Wells. Powell and Smith have proven themselves to be adequate backups, nothing more. Of course, if any of the RBs had had better offensive line blocking last year, perhaps the AGM would be speaking more highly of them in general. The Cards let go of a really good back, LaRod Stevens-Howling, a decent change of pace back. But he doesn't fit the current scheme, so he's outta here. The team keeps four or five backs. The AGM wants to only keep four.

The AGM would look to pick up a college RB. Running backs have become de-emphasized in the NFL over the past few seasons, in favor of the QB. The current coaching staff wants a RB to pick up critical yards (like on third down!), and be an effective pass-blocker.

I wouldn't go after the consensus top back, Alabama's Eddie Lacy, in the second round. But if Lacy fell to the fourth or fifth (unlikely), he would be a good building block for the future. I also like Andre Ellington of Clemson. He knows how to use his blockers, and has good hands, which means he could be a threat as a safety valve out of the backfield. I would stay away from Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina. The AGM has suffered enough with injury-prone RBs. I don't want to deal with that ever again, if possible.

There are currently no less than 36 RBs on the streets, awaiting a call. We are familiar with a few: The Hyphen, Beanie Wells (been there, done that, no thanks), and Javarris James (needs a get-out-of-jail-free card to stay on the field). The proven backs remaining all have injury concerns (Ahmad Bradshaw) or attitude problems (Peyton Hillis). Neither of which is appealing to the AGM. Don't get me wrong: a bad (ass) attitude ON THE FIELD is desired; however, you gotta be able to turn that off, or at least keep it on a short leash off the field.

I don't see anyone on the street that I'd trade Smith or Powell for. So a college RB in the middle rounds it is!


As a bonus, I thought I'd throw in the fullback, since we only have one, Anthony Sherman (AKA The Shermanator) currently on the roster. And his job looks to be in jeopardy. The new coaching staff doesn't seem to want to use him much. That's too bad, since he is so good! The past coaching staff should have used Sherman more often as a pass-blocker. Kevin Kolb might not have suffered so many sacks if the defensive attackers knew that The Shermanator was waiting for them in the backfield. There are only two FA fullbacks on the street. Since the team seems inclined to only be keeping one FB, that guy should be Anthony Sherman. There are only two FA fullbacks on the street. There are several young college FBs available, but none that I'd trade Sherman for. If the Cards waste a draft pick on a FB at all, they are doing something wrong.

Tuesday: QB, P, PK.

I've had my say. What say you, ROTB Best and Brightest?