The Playoffs officially kicked off last Saturday. Many expected the Arizona Cardinals to be sitting at home that week, but not the entire tournament. Unfortunately, that’s the case. So while we sit here and watch teams play for the Lombardi Trophy it gives us time to reflect on the players the Caridnals have on their roster going into the 2017 offseason.
Before we begin, this is purely a look at the Cardinals current roster. We’ll discuss options to fill needs in another post further down the line.
(All Boldened Names are Free Agents to be)
Quarterback: (Need Moderate to High)
Zac Dysert - Practice Squad for most of 2016. Signed to active roster to prevent Miami from signing him. Will likely be one of four or five quarterbacks for the offseason. Is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent in 2017.
Drew Stanton - The Cardinals backup for four years now. Fans want him gone, will likely stay for at least another season before he’s replaced by younger talent.
Carson Palmer - A weak season as compared to 2014 and 2015. Was hit too often. Coming back for at least 2017, and the Cardinals will look to find his successor.
Runningback: (Need Low to Moderate)
David Johnson - Johnson had an excellent 2016. Selected as a 1st All-Pro. Had a chance to be the first player in NFL history to post 100 yards from scrimmage in all 16 regular season games, but an injury cut him 60 yards short.
Andre Ellington - Ellington is likely gone. Has had opportunities to earn more reps, but inability to find holes and injuries mean he will be looking for a new home in 2017.
Stepfan Taylor - A key special teams contributor, and has done well when given the opportunity on offense. Is he happy with a very limited role on offense? Another player who will likely be elsewhere in 2017.
Chris Johnson - Johnson & Johnson did not exactly work out in 2017. When the elder Johnson got hurt early in the season, the entire workload fell onto David. Will Johnson take another team friendly veteran deal? Or will the Cardinals move forward?
Kerwynn Williams - One of only three backs under contract for 2017, Williams showed plenty of playmaking ability in the back half of 2016. His ability to run the wildcat, helped a the team pickup yards behind a makeshift offensive line. Will have a chance to compete for the backup role to David.
Elijaah Penny - Many fans favorite during the preseason, Penny spent all of 2016 on the Practice Squad. He showed a lot of versatility in the preseason, able to catch passes out of the backfield, and find holes on the teams third string line. He was also a capable blocker. He’ll fight for a roster spot in 2017.
Wide Receiver: (Need Moderate)
John Brown - Brown struggled with his sickle cell trait during the season, and did not look like his 2016 dominant self. It was an up and down season for every receiver not named Fitzgerald. Brown will have an offseason to figure out how to handle his sickle cell, and come back in 2017.
Marquis Bundy - He spent a good portion of 2016 on the PS, before being elevated to the 53 man roster. He did not see any playing time however, so he will be battling for a roster spot in 2017.
Larry Fitzgerald - He is currently up in the air about his return in 2017. It makes sense. He’s been on a lot of bad Cardinal teams, and a team with high ambitions in 2016 falling flat, it would definitely take its toll. As of right now it seems more likely he returns in 2017 for one final push.
Brittan Golden - Golden is a Restricted Free Agent going into 2017. He’s the teams kick returner, an emergency safety, and the teams fourth receiver. It seems likely he’s back to fight for a roll in 2017, but should not expect anything other than what he’s had in the past few seasons.
J.J. Nelson - J.J. developed a chemistry with Palmer as the season wore on. Following the departure of Michael Floyd, Nelson took control of the number two role opposite of Fitzgerald. He scored in four straight games, to end his season total at six. He will compete for the second spot in 2017.
Jeremy Ross - Ross was signed to fill the spot of Michael Floyd after his release. He’s a candidate to be signed in the offseason. He can return kicks, and scored a touchdown in the Cardinals season finale. With the other guys on the roster, plus the players in the draft, his return seems unlikely.
Jaron Brown - Brown signed an extension during the 2016 season to keep him in Arizona through 2017. His season ended with an ACL injury, but he was devolping into a playmaker for the Cardinals. His presence could have the Cardinals press the pause button on a Wide Receiver in the first round, but it does not mean they will say no to the position entirely.
Chris Hubert - Hubert spent 2016 on and off the Practice Squad. He was a fan favorite during the preseason. At 5’9 he fits more of the Brown/Nelson mold in the offense, but he showed playmaking ability, and could garner a look for the 2017 final roster.
Marvin Hall - Likely just an offseason body.
Aaron Dobson - Dobson was signed to a futures contract. Dobson was a second round selection by the Patriots in 2012 out of Marshall. At 6’3 he fits the Cardinals need of a taller wideout opposite of Fitzgerald... If he does not retire.
Tight End: (Need High)
Jermaine Gresham - Gresham came back to the Cardinals with the expectation this team was going to run for the Super Bowl. That failed to happen, so now his future with the Cardinals is all but certain. Does he take another team friendly deal? Or will he pursue a bigger pay day this time around? That seems likely, leaving the Cardinals to find a replacement.
Darren Fells - Fells is turning 31 before the start of the season. He’s an impending Restricted Free Agent, meaning he will likely return to the desert, but the Cardinals will be looking for a younger, better alternative.
Hakeem Valles - Under contract through 2017, Valles is another big tight end at 6’5. We saw very little from him this season, so he will be back next season, but will fight for his roster spot.
Ifeanyi Momah - Momah was expected to produce this season. The big receiving tight end that the Cardinals had high hopes for missed the season with injury. He’ll have another chance to prove himself in 2017, but his roster spot is not guranteed.
Troy Niklas - The final tight end under contract for 2017 is the oft injured Troy Niklas. After a fantastic preseason, fans assumed he had finally turned the corner. And then he proved us wrong. He’ll have another offseason of work to try and show what he can do, but depending on who the Cardinals sign, his days in Arizona are numbered.
Center: (Need Moderate)
A.Q. Shipley - Shipley was the Cardinals highest rated offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus, as well as the 15th ranked center. He’s a free agent this season, but it seems like a long shot that he will not return in 2017.
Evan Boehm - Drafted to compete with Shipley, Boehm ultimately lost the battle. However, his season was not lost due to injuries. He played guard following injuries to everyone the Cardinals field at right guard. He played the position well, showing the Cardinals he may have a future at the position. As of right now though, he will still be fighting for the starting center role.
Taylor Boggs - Boggs is listed as a Center, but injuries once again thrust him into different roles. He injured his shoulder later in the season, forcing the Cardinals to start Boehm at right guard. Boggs is a canidate to return, simply for depth.
Guard: (Need Moderate)
Mike Iupati - He had a down year following his 2015 Pro Bowl season. His struggles had to do with the multitude of injuries across the offensive line, slowing the units ability to gel.
Cole Toner - Toner was no used as a guard at all in 2016, but had the opportunity to be used as a fullback on goal line situations. He will compete for the right guard job in 2017.
Earl Watford - Watford struggled heavily in 2016. In what should have been his best season, he failed to protect Palmer on a number of occasions. He likely will find a home elsewhere for 2017.
John Wetzel - He played well in relief at a number of positions. Wetzel showed he can be solid depth. He’s an exclusive rights free agent, so he will be going nowhere until the preseason.
Evan Mathis - Mathis will be retiring, so no need to go further.
Kaleb Johnson - On the Cardinals practice Squad, team signed him to a futures contract. Will fight for roster spot.
Daniel Munyer - Joined the league as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs. Spent his rookie season on their practice squad, and active roster. In 2016 he was on the Chiefs practice squad until October, and then signed to the Cardinals practice squad late in the season. Munyer can play both Guard and Center. Will likely be an offseason body.
Tackle: (Need Moderate)
Jared Veldheer - Veldheer struggled at points this season. However he was getting better until his injury. Likely the teams starting left tackle in 2017, the Cardinals will need him to rebound.
D.J. Humphries - Became the full time starter in 2016. Got better as the season went on. Moved to the left side in relief of Veldheer, before he got hurt as well. My projected right tackle, but could possibly make move to the left side.
Ulrick John - Had an opportunity at tackle due to injuries. Will be one of several players fighting for the backup role.
Givens Price - Was promoted to the Cardinals active roster in December. The team was intirgued by his upside in the pre season, enough to keep him on the Cardinals practice squad. With the lack of depth right now, the Cardinals will look at all options.
We’ll end this here. Already at 1700 words and counting. The defensive piece will go up soon. What players would you like to see Arizona sign for their more imediate needs?