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Arizona Cardinals 2018: The Return of the Fullbacks?

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The Arizona Cardinals could have a fullback on the roster for the first time since 2012

Dallas Cowboys v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals haven’t had a fullback on the 53-man roster since trading Anthony Sherman to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013.

Bruce Arians has always preferred using two tight end system over having a fullback on the field. He has emphasized throughout the years as a head coach that having versatile tight ends gives opposing defenses more trouble.

“I’m not a fullback guy. I never have been,” Arians said in March of 2013.

The tight ends have struggled to pass and run block throughout the season and even considered using Robert Nkemdiche in a temporary fullback role.

With Arians retirement, the return of the fullback position is very possible.

Taking a look at some of the head coach candidates set to interview with the Cardinals, all of them have used a fullback in their offensive systems in the past.

1. Pat Shurmur, Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator

The Vikings have the 7th best rushing offense in the NFL, averaging 122.3 yards per game. Fullback C.J. Ham must be doing something right, with the successes of Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, and Jerick McKinnon. Their rebuilt offensive line deserves a lot of credit too.

2. John DeFelippo, Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Coach

The Eagles currently don’t have or use a fullback. But DeFelippo has used a fullback before, in now 49ers fullback Malcolm Johnson, when he was the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator in 2015.

3. Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator

Schwartz coached Jerome Felton, one of the better known fullbacks, back in 2009 to 2010 when he was the Detroit Lions head coach. When Felton left for the Carolina Panthers, Schwartz continued to use a fullback in Joique Bell.

4. Mike Munchak, Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line Coach

Fullbacks have been used in his playbook throughout his years as an NFL coach. The Steelers currently use a fullback in their system with Roosevelt Nix, who has blocked well for Le’Veon Bell the past three seasons.

Although the NFL is transitioning away from fullbacks, the position isn’t dead yet. They aren’t asked to catch or carry the ball often, but NFL fullbacks continues to prove every season that they play an intricate role in producing a dynamic run game. Fullbacks are essentially smaller but more athletic offensive linemen. They can be very effective in short-yardage situations as well. Teams such as the Arizona Cardinals that struggled to run the ball throughout the 2017 season could use a fullback in 2018.

Here is the current list of free-agent-to-be fullbacks in 2018:

Unrestricted Free Agents:

  • Anthony Sherman, Kansas City Chiefs
  • John Kuhn, New Orleans Saints
  • Mike Tolbert, Buffalo Bills
  • Zach Line, New Orleans Saints