The addition if RB Adrian Peterson not only was a game-changer for the Cardinals in their 38-33 win over the Bucs, it could signal the return of Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald in 2018.
GM Steve Keim and Arians are signed through the 2018 season. Both have a team option to return in 2019. Keim appears to be on track for a contract extension, as he has garnered the trust of Michael Bidwill and the front office. Arians appears to be a good health this season and with a renewed excitement in the team's prospects for the rest of 2017 and 2018, he could have the incentive to return for the final year of his contract.
Carson Palmer is signed through 2018. His cap number next year is $20.6M. Despite the excessive hits he has taken through 6 games, Palmer appears to be rejuvenated.
Larry Fitzgerald is not signed yet for 2018. There has been speculation the he will retire at the end of this season, but with his good friends Carson Palmer and Adrian Peterson already inked to contracts for next year, and with how productive Fitz has remained this year, chances might be pretty good at this point that he will re-up for another year.
Let's take a look at each position and what UFAs there are and what players are returning:
Keim and Arians appear to like Blaine Gabbert as a possible starter down the road. It would make sense to sign him to an incentive laden deal to be the #2 behind Palmer for one more year while being prepped to be in the mix to start in 2019.
This is the year that the Cardinals draft a QB to groom and compete for the starting job in 2019.
There are plenty of ways to keep both David Johnson and Adrian Peterson productive within the offense, particularly because Johnson is so good at WR. Thus, Johnson can still be on the field when Peterson is the bell cow at RB. There are times when BA can employ a 2 RB backfield.
It is very likely that Keim will use one of his draft picks on a RB, who can play STs and learn behind Johnson and Peterson. Not sure what K. Williams and A. Ellington will command in the FA market, but if the price is right one of them might want to return.
- C. Williams
- Jaron Brown---UFA
- John Brown---UFA
It is very possible that the Cardinals will re-sign Fitz and both Jaron and John Brown. John Brown might receive a lucrative offer elsewhere that Keim may not be willing to match. But, if John Brown is willing to sign a deal rich in incentives, he stays.
Another WR should be added in the draft.
If Niklas can stay healthy and produce like he did versus the Bucs, Keim may make a push to re-sign him. Chances are good that the Cardinals will draft a TE in 2018.
Big decisions will have to be made regarding G Iupati, C Shipley and T Veldheer. It looks like Alex Boone is a good fit, if he can stay healthy. He could remain the starter at LG if he signs and if the team moves on from Iupati. Bohemia and Munyer would appear to be logical replacements for Shipley, but the coaches and Palmer like Shipley and he is signed through 2018. It might be too soon for Will Holden to take over at RT for Veldheer, but the Cardinals could turn to John Wetzel or a FA at RT, if they decide that $10M is too much to spend on keeping Veldheer.
- X. Williams
Rucker's leadership is valued and he has shown he will play for a little over the veteran minimum. Peters has been the rock in the middle and could be re-sign at a fair market value.
The Cardinals need to add an interior pass rusher. Will likely do so through FA or with one of its top 3 picks in the 2018 draft.
The Cardinals have already picked up Deone Bucannon's 5th year option and will likely try to sign him to a multi-year extension. They might choose to stick with Haason Reddick inside or to keep Reddick on the edge and sign a UFA ILB to pair with Deone Bucannon.
On the outside, one of the PS edge players might emerge as next year's #4 OLB. Kareem Martin is sold versus the run, but has yet to be a consistent factor as a pass rusher. It's possible the Cardinals could try to use one of their first 4 draft picks on an edge rusher, particularly with Markus Golden entering his final year of his rookie contract.
- B. Williams
- T. Williams---UFA
The #2 CB position needs to be addressed once and for all in 2018. Chances are that Justin Bethel will sign elsewhere. It could be a boon if Tramon Williams builds on his good performance versus the Bucs and could earn a contract for next year, but at his age he is hardly a long-term solution. Brandon Williams and Ronald Zamort could emerge in their third year. But, look for a UFA CB or high draft pick to be added.
Tyvon Branch is having the best year of any of the safeties, although Antoine Bethea is coming on strong. Branch is earning a good contract in 2018, but at his age and with youngsters Baker and Ford in the mix, chances are he signs elsewhere if he gets a good offer. The biggest decision of all is whether to give Tyrann Mathieu his roster bonus which would put him at 2018 cap figure of $14M. Steve Keim will likely try to negotiate a new deal with the Honey Badger, but may be forced to let him go if Mathieu and his agent aren't willing to redo his contract. Tough to say, but the Honey Badger is struggling again this year.
Both Dawson and Lee are signed through 2018. Chances are that Brewer or Drescher will re-sign in 2018. Brewer has been a good fit.
Possible FA Priorities:
Likely Draft Priorities:
What do you think? Will 2018 be a rebuild or one more run for the roses from the veterans?
Like Emerson, Lake and Palmer...perhaps Arians, Fitz and Palmer were "meant to be here, from the beginning.