The offensive line for the Arizona Cardinals was one of their weaker points throughout the 2016 season. Injuries ravaged their starters and even some of their backups, which led to less and less protection for aging quarterback Carson Palmer. Evan Mathis was out for the entire season, Jared Veldheer tore his triceps at the end of October and missed the rest of the season and various other backups missed time due to injuries as well.
A.Q. Shipley was the only penciled in starter at the beginning of the season that ended up playing all 16 games (Mike Iupati missed that mark by only one game). Consistency along the offensive line, as we all know, is incredibly important, especially when your team has Super Bowl aspirations.
As far as performance is concerned, Shipley was also one of the more consistent players along the line both in pass protection and run blocking. Pro Football Focus had him ranked somewhere around the middle of the pack in terms of production from the center position compared to the rest of the centers in the NFL.
So really, the production has been there, but of course, there can always be room for an upgrade. The team drafted Evan Boehm last season to potentially take over that role, but now it appears he could be in line for the starting right guard position.
So if the thought is to keep Boehm at guard, then it seems apparent that the Cards would want to keep Shipley. The question comes down to how much they will have to pay him. He only made a $760,000 base salary this past season and would seem to be in line for a pay increase. If you can keep him at less than $2 million a year for a middle of the pack starting center that stays healthy and already has continuity with Carson Palmer (who noted he wants Shipley to return), that may be worth the money. But with all the other free agency obligations the team will have to commit to over the next couple of months, that may not be a possibility.
What do you think, Cardinals fans? Should Steve Keim attempt to keep A.Q. Shipley in the fold?