For the Arizona Cardinals, free agency is about finding a happy medium between bringing back their own free agents, and finding players to fill the needs of the team.
For Pro Football Focus, they came up with a list of three players and one dream signing that could be ideal fits with the Arizona Cardinals.
First, PFF acknowledged the obvious, which has already happened, the Arizona Cardinals needed to retain Chandler Jones.
While the franchise tag is likely the same amount as what Jones will be seeking in a year to year deal, $15 million, it also puts a snag on the Arizona Cardinals cap space, so some of these names may be out of play immediately, or maybe they will find a way to bring one of these players in.
Here are the four players PFF talked about.
Jaguars CB Prince Amukamara
The Cardinals desperately need another solid cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals play a lot of man coverage in their defense and adding Amukamara would be a big help. Amukamara has five straight seasons with positive coverage grades and would be a nice addition to the Cardinals secondary.
Desperately seems like a strong word, but based on PFF’s grades, B/R 1000’s grade and well my eye, it may not be completely incorrect. Marcus Cooper was the team’s defacto CB2 and he wasn’t good in the grading schemes of either organization.
Amukamara signed a one year deal with Jacksonville for cheap and now is looking to cash in. Spotrac thinks he could get $10.9 million a season... The Cardinals have just over $17 million. Good luck.
Cowboys OG Ronald Leary
With the sudden retirement of Evan Mathis, the Cardinals are left with only one viable starting guard in Mike Iupati. Earl Watford had struggles at guard last season so it will clearly be a position of emphasis in free agency. Leary would be a clear upgrade for the Cardinals both as a run-blocker and a pass protector. Leary did not allow a single sack in 2016 on 438 pass blocking snaps and that type of pass protection for Carson Palmer would make the entire Cardinals’ offense better.
Sudden retirement is an odd term, since Mathis couldn’t get healthy and only signed for one year, but alas. Leary stepped in and played better than La’El Collins, so Leary is going to get paid. He’d be a great long term fit at right guard, with the experience to move to left guard when the time comes.
Bills CB Stephon Gilmore
Cardinals GM Steve Keim has often expressed that his offseason philosophy is to try and fill roster holes in free agency and just draft talented players. In keeping with that philosophy the Cardinals will likely target a free agent cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson. While Gilmore did have a down season last year in coverage his 5 interceptions and 6 passes broken up would still be a nice addition to the Cardinals secondary.
Gilmore had a bad season in 2016, had some on the field concerns with what looked like lack of effort. However, he has shown flashes of brilliance, which coincides with his projected price tag of $14+ million a year.
Titans LB Sean Spence
The Cardinals are likely to lose linebacker Kevin Minter in free agency and will need some more bodies to help fill out a thin linebacker group. Spence is an athletic linebacker who has improved his performance every single season he has been in the NFL. Spence has experience playing in a blitz-heavy scheme (3 sacks in 2016) and his coverage ability (75.5 coverage grade in 2016) would be a benefit to the Cardinals defense.
Spence played well in his first season with the Titans and is a strong two way linebacker with solid athleticism. However, Spence has an injury history, which could make him cheaper, but also a risk.
What do think of these free agents?