With the Arizona Cardinals season being just about wrapped up, many fans are already looking towards next season and the abundance of storylines related to it. Who will the team draft? Will Carson Palmer be back? What about Larry Fitzgerald and Bruce Arians?
These are questions that will be answered in time and the last four games of the season aren’t really going to have an effect on what happens with any of the aforementioned names. However, there are some players that will absolutely be auditioning for something in these last four games. Let’s take a look at a few below.
Adrian Peterson: In his relatively short time in the desert, Peterson has been up and down. Now hampered by a nagging neck injury, can he prove that he is worth keeping around with his 2018 salary to back up David Johnson next season? Would he even want to do that? Some of this will play out over the next four weeks.
John Brown: To me, Brown is the biggest enigma on the team. When he is playing, he brings an element to the team that no one else can. He has speed, crisp route running and isn’t plagued with drops like J.J. Nelson has shown to be. The problem is, Brown is rarely healthy. The team may look to just move on and go with Fitzgerald, Nelson and Chad Williams next year, but if he can show some effectiveness in these last few games, perhaps they bring him back on a cheap prove-it deal for 2018 that is laden with incentives.
Blaine Gabbert: At the conclusion of this season, Gabbert will be set to enter the free agency market once again come March. While he likely won’t be looking at a huge deal anywhere he goes, he may look to cash in handsomely on a backup quarterback salary. There have been rumblings of the Cardinals trying to lock him up on a multi-year deal before he gets to free agency, but first we have to see what he truly is. Could he really take over for a season or two if Carson Palmer were to retire? Would he play backup to Palmer in 2018? Can he show some consistency and rebound from a poor start against the Rams last week? Again, lots of questions, but we will have a better idea of where he’s at in a month.
Tyrann Mathieu: On the defensive side of the ball, the Honey Badger is the biggest question mark. The Cardinals have built-in safeguards for his contract, so if they want to cut bait after 2017, they can do so with little monetary recourse. Of course, that would require them to find another safety, as Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea aren’t getting any younger. Budda Baker has shown flashes and will probably remain a starter in 2018. The question is whether or not that starting spot will be alongside Mathieu or in place of him.
Robert Nkemdiche: Let’s face it, it’s time for Nkemdiche to step up. His fall to the bottom of the first round a couple years ago no longer is as puzzling as it once was. Frankly, he hasn’t done much of anything since being drafted. The Cardinals are woefully untalented along the defensive line and it would behoove them to see if Nkemdiche can turn it around and be part of the future of that group. I want to see Nkemdiche rain fire on some bad offensive lines (Giants, Seahawks) these last few weeks.
What do you think, Cards fans? Who are some players you need to see something out of in this final quarter of the 2017 regular season?