In 2016 the NFL cap is expected to be $150 million, currently the Cardinals are projected to have a cap of $125.8 million cap it and have just over $24 million they can spend. Arizona will have some big decisions to make about who to resign and who to let go.
The Cardinals key 2016 free agents are Jerraud Powers, Drew Stanton, Sean Weatherspoon, Jermaine Gresham, Rashad Johnson, Lyle Sendlein, Chris Johnson, Justin Bethel, Tony Jefferson, Drew Butler (just kidding), Darren Fells and Dwight Freeney.
Powers, Rashad, Bethel and Jefferson represent a sizable chuck of the Cardinals secondary. With Deone Buccannon waiting in the wings you have to believe that either Rashad or Tony are gone as you can't pay them all. Rashad is likely to command the bigger pay day. With the Cardinals secondary playing so well, Rashad’s stats this year and his consistency over the years, a Devin McCourty type contact of $47 million over 5 years seems an a good guide for his future value. He may command a larger contract then the Cardinals can afford to pay.
On the other side of the ball Chris Johnson is creating a demand for himself that the Cardinals may not meet due to his age, however his emergence has played a large role in the offenses dominance this season. Can the Cardinals count on David Johnson and Andre Ellington? Gresham is a question mark that is worth considering. Over the last few weeks he has begun to become more involved in the offense and may earn himself a contract if he remains affordable. Outside of that it doesn’t seem that the Cardinals will be hard pressed to resign Stanton and Fells for 2016 should they want to.
There is also Carson Palmer to consider. In 2016 Palmers cap hit jumps from the $7.3 million it is now to $19 million in 2016 and up to $22 million in 2017. Does Steve Keim continue his trend of kicking the can down the road as he has with Fitzgerald and again restructure Palmer’s contract?
2016 holds some interesting free agents targets but will they be affordable for the Cardinals in the long-term? In 2017 a lot of big decisions will need to be made. Calais Campbell, Michael Floyd, Jonathan Cooper, Cory Redding, Kevin Minter, Frostee Rucker, Tyrann Mathieu, Alex Okafor, Earl Watford, Andre Ellington and Chandler Catanzaro will ALL be free agents.
We have to assume that Campbell will be extended but decisions on Floyd, Cooper, Rucker, Okafor and Ellington all have to be made while still paying Mathieu, Minter and Catanzaro who I assume are locked in.
2016 may be another offseason where the Cardinals look to keep the team together and again scoop up over-achieving veterans to bridge the gaps. Whereas 2017 could be a defining off-season for the Cardinal’s future aspirations.
What do you see happening in the future?