As NFL teams head into what perhaps will be the most frenetic 48-hour waiver wire period in NFL history, it might be worth looking at where the Cardinals are personnel-wise this year to where they were last year. Coming off a disappointing 7-8-1 season and losing a dozen free agents to other teams this off-season, one would think that the 2017 Cardinals would have a sharply different look... but upon further review...
Returnees: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton
Addition: UFA Blaine Gabbert
The addition of Gabbert has made the room deeper and has provided Drew Stanton with some added motivation. Gabbert has a year to prove he belongs in the 2018 QB mix. Having Stanton and Gabbert to share practice reps has allowed the coaches to keep Carson Palmer fresh.
Returnees: David Johnson, Kerwynn Williams, Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, Elijhaa Penny
Defections: Stepfan Taylor
Addition: T.J. Logan (5th round pick---currently on IR)
With Logan on the IR, currently there are no fresh faces in the room. The thought is that Williams deserved a promotion to #2 RB, and now he's the primary kickoff and punter returner in Logan's absence. BA suggested that Penny could assume Taylor's STs/short yardage #4 RB role. Johnson and Ellington were re-signed to provide depth, but neither has looked particularly strong.
Returnees: Larry Fitzgerald, Jaron Brown, John Brown, J.J. Nelson, Brittan Golden, Jeremy Ross
Defections: Michael Floyd (MIN)
Addition: Chad Williams (3rd round pick---coming off disappointing camp)
Basically the room is exactly the same as what it was after Floyd was released, save Jaron Brown's return from the IR.
Returnees: Jermaine Gresham, Troy Niklas, Ifeanyi Momah, Hakeem Valles
Defections: Darren Fells (DET)
The Cardinals made Gresham one of the highest paid TEs in free agency. The room remains the same, save for Fells' departure, filled by a now healthy Niklas.
Returnees: D.J. Humphries, Jared Veldheer, John Wetzel, Ulrich John
Addition: Will Holden (5th round pick---on roster bubble)
Same room essentially, only Humphries and Veldheer have flipped sides. Wetzel remains the #3 T.
Returnees: Mike Iupati, Evan Boehm, Cole Toner
Defections: Evan Mathis (retired), Earl Watford (JAX)
Addition: Dorian Johnson (4th round pick---stayed 3rd stringer throughout camp)
Same room as it was at the end of the year, minus Watford. This time Boehm, who was drafted to succeed Shipley at center, has assumed the starting RG spot. Iupati is lighter this year but is already nursing a triceps injury.
Returnee: A.Q. Shipley, Daniel Munyer (PS)
Defections: Tyler Boggs (CHI)
Additions: UFA Tony Bergstrom
Shipley was re-signed to a 2-year deal and remains the starter. Munyer may be the COF. Bergstrom had a solid camp. Cole Toner was switched here and made a decent transition, but has struggled some at guard.
Returnees: Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter
Addition: UDFA Pasoni Tasini
Same room. Xavier Williams adds depth here as well.
Returnees: Frostee Rucker, Josh Mauro, Robert Nkemdiche, Olsen Pierre, Xavier Williams, Ed Stinson
Defections: Calais Campbell (JAX)
Rucker and Mauro were re-signed. The room is the same, minus Campbell. The hope is that Nkemdiche will emerge as Campbell's successor.
Returnees: Deone Bucannon, Scooby Wright
Defections: Kevin Minter (CIN), Sio Moore (HOU)
Additions: UFA Karlos Dansby, Haason Reddick (1st round pick), Josh Bynes, Philip Wheeler
Dansby was signed to assume the leadership of the defense, but has been injured through most of camp. Reddick was the team's short-term replacement for Deone Buccanon, who is now off the PUP list and hoping to start asap..
Returnees: Markus Golden, Chandler Jones, Kareeem Martin, Cap Capi
Defections: Alex Okafor (NO)
Additions: UFA Jarvis Jones (out with disc injury), Alex Bazzie
Same room, especially since Jarvis Jones has not been able to contribute. Martin and Capi have stepped up as depth players.
Returnees: Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Brandon Williams, Ronald Zamort (IR)
Defections: Marcus Cooper (CHI)
Addition: UFA Tramon Williams
Same room (minus Cooper and adding Tramon Williams). Bethel and Brandon Williams have been relied on and thus far have shown improvement. Zamort was a surprise bright start until he landed on the IR.
Returnees: Tyrann Mathieu, Tyvon Branch, Harlan Miller
Defections: Tony Jefferson (BAL), D.J. Swearinger (WAS)
Additions: UFA Antoine Bethea, Budda Baker (2nd round pick---good camp, should contribute in the nickel), Rudy Ford (6th round pick---looks like a good STs player and centerfield tackler)
While this year's starters, Mathieu and Branch, are returnees (both back from injury plagued seasons), significant sub-package depth was added in Bethea, Baker and Ford.
Returnees: LS Aaron Brewer, P Matt Wile
Defections: K Chandler Catanzaro (NYJ)
Additions: UFA K Phil Dawson, P Richie Leone
Dawson may be the most valuable addition on the roster if he steadies the kicking game.
All of the rooms remain the same (QB, RB, WR, TE, T, G, C, NT, DE, OLB, CB) except some depth added at ILB and S, and the addition of a veteran kicker.
Two new starters who were not on the roster last year: ILB Karlos Dansby, K Phil Dawson.
Steve Keim's Philosophy: build from within, maintain continuity, meanwhile adding 4 compensatory picks in the 2018 NFL Draft (projected to be a 3rd, a 4th and two 6th rounders).
Keim has put a great deal of trust into the likes of RB Kerwynn Williams, C A.Q. Shipley, G Evan Boehm, WR Jaron Brown, WR John Brown, TE Jermaine Gresham, TE Troy Niklas, NT Corey Peters, DE Frostee Rucker, DE Josh Mauro, DE Robert Nekmediche, ILB Karlos Dansby, $LB Deone Bucannon, OLB Kareem Martin, CB Justin Bethel, CB Brandon Williams, S Tyrann Mathieu and S Tyvon Branch.
Will Keim's trust in building the roster from within be rewarded? Or will the 2017 team prolong the 2016 team's struggles? is this 2017 team, personnel-wise stronger that the 2016 team? at first glance it is difficult to make that case. Is the team chemistry, resiliency and resolve stronger?
While the vast majority of the rooms remain the same, Steve Keim is banking on the house's increase in value.