There has not been much to write home about in the first week of free agency for the Arizona Cardinals.
They've lost five starters on defense and their replacements are… questionable at best right now.
Well, John Clayton of ESPN came out with his list of teams that regressed post free agency and his notes on the Cardinals felt accurate, if not slightly biting:
Biggest losses: DE Calais Campbell, S Tony Jefferson, S D.J. Swearinger, CB Marcus Cooper, OT Earl Watford
The Cardinals, who ranked second in overall total defense in 2016, might drop a level or two with their free-agent losses. They figure to lose as many as six decent defenders: Campbell, Cooper, Jefferson, Swearinger, pass-rusher Alex Okafor and potentially linebacker Kevin Minter. The signing of Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones likely signals Minter's pending departure, and the Cardinals brought in 32-year-old Antoine Bethea on a cheap deal to provide cover at safety. Arizona has to hope that 2016 first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche can improve and take Campbell's spot, and the team is still looking for a No. 2 cornerback. That spot might have to be filled with the No. 13 overall pick.
I feel like the loss of either Jefferson or Swearinger is overblown, but losing both is going to cause communication issues more than anything, but I think production will be attainable from Bethea and whoever else comes in.
It is going to be interesting to see how Arizona invests in inside linebacker and safety, can they invest early in corner?
All of that is to say, the unknown definitely makes it seem like a regression, but after last years offseason where everyone seemed to think a Super Bowl was on the horizon, maybe a step back in the offseason will lead to a step forward in the season.