Looking at the needs of the Arizona Cardinals from Seth Cox's article, I took it upon myself to look at potential free agent targets on the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals this off season. Normally I am not a fan of free agents after being conditioned by Rod Graves and his consistent bad signings, but after last off season and the excellent pickups by Steve Keim I am finding myself more interested in who will be available this off season.
This year the field of TEs is pretty good but most of the top tier players are past 28 and on the tail ends of their careers.
Jimmy Graham: The best TE in the NFL and may go down as the best to ever play by the time it is all said and done. Will the Cardinals be able to sign him? Doubt it, but hey a man can wish!
Brandon Myers: There are better TEs available like Dennis Pitta and Brandon Pettigrew, but Myers is a year younger, will be cheaper after a bad year in New York and offers a familiar face to Carson Palmer from their days suffering together in Oakland. Myers isn't a stud TE but he may fit the need of a versatile TE that can both block and catch.
There are other guys like Jermichael Finley that catch the eye but he, like Fred Davis and Dustin Keller, are coming off serious injuries limiting the free agent field on the top end. Of course I know Keim will find someone who have never heard of to bring into camp next year.
I am a fan of Lyle Sendlein, a UDFA from 2007, he has started at center for the Cardinals the last five years, surviving his second regime and has been consistent every single year. I would only replace him if the team can find someone special like...
Alex Mack: 28 years old and one of the best centers in the game. Centers do not command large salaries and could be a huge pickup that helps in the run game and secures the interior of the pocket for Palmer and future QBs for the next four to five years.
Evan Dietrich-Smith: Center for the Packers has been their starter for the last year and a half and is solid in the run game and as a pass blocker. Not sure if he would be a perfect fit, but he is a guy to look at if GB lets him get away.
After that the field gets very old or not good enough to replace Sendlein in my "expert" opinion. I do not see the need for change just for the sake of change.
This is an interesting area. While I have been a supporter of Daryn Colledge in the past, Seth made some great points, including how the declining play of Colledge over the tail end of the season and his high salary are likely to make him a victim of a pay cut or of being plain cut. There are guys in the wings to take over, but is there someone better in FA? Not really.
Geoff Schwartz: He is 28 years old and is a solid guard for the Chiefs. He was part of one of the best running offenses in the NFL and could offer some competition to the group. It is unlikely the Chiefs let him get away as he beat out the player ahead of him and has offered improved consistency for the Chiefs but like many guys available next year, there is no guarantee he will be better than Colledge.
John Jerry: Another solid guard playing with the Dolphins who reports say is unlikely to stick with the Dolphins. He is a guy I would target as he is 28, experienced and could thrive in a power scheme.
After that the talent pool drops off with some interesting names but it is hard to tell who would be an improvement over Colledge.
The part you have all been waiting for. This year's FA class has some interesting names, the first being...
Eugene Monroe: The LT for the Ravens is 27 years old and will most likely get signed to a bigger deal by the Ravens. Why Jacksonville traded him is a curiosity to most as he is considered one of the better LTs in the NFL. If he slips away, he should be looked at as a priority signing because of his age and ability.
Jared Veldheer: Another 27 year old tackle that could really thrive with the Cardinals. Veldheer is a good LT that could come cheaper because of a bicep tear in week 12. If Monroe is franchised or is too expensive to sign, Veldheer would be a great consolation prize.
Branden Albert: Albert is turning 30 soon and is oft injured but in the Valley of the Sun he might find his fountain of youth like so many veterans before him (okay, really just Kurt Warner, Carson Palmer and John Abraham as Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Emmitt Smith and others were all busts). Basically Albert could be an improvement but is a risky with his injury history.
Austin Howard: Howard is a RT who could help out, though I wonder if he would be worth it over Bobby Massie or Eric Winston. Just another name to keep an eye on.
J'Marcus Webb: Coming from the Vikings, Webb is a 26 year old tackle and while he isn't amazing he appears to be a better player than Bradley Sowell. If the Vikings let him get away he is a guy who should be signed to compete for the spot.
There are also several other young guys who do not rate well but do rate better than Sowell. I know that Keim will bring in several guys to challenge Sowell and after looking at the FA list I believe that an upgrade can be found in FA, freeing up draft picks to shore up other weaknesses, such as a QB for the future.