What kind of shape is the Arizona Cardinals’ roster for 2019 in terms of players under contract and/or team control (RFAs and ERFAs)?
It is always good to chart this roster—-because when you see it on paper—-you can get a clear sense of what the team’s biggest needs are heading into free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft.
QB (3): Josh Rosen, Mike Glennon, Chad Kanoff
RB (5): David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan, D.J. Foster, Brandon Wilds
WR (6): Christian Kirk, Chad Williams, Trent Sherfield, Jaylen Tolliver, Pharoh Cooper, Malachi Dupre
TE (4): Jermaine Gresham, Ricky Seals-Jones, Darrell Daniels, Gabe Holmes
T (6): D.J. Humphries, Korey Cunningham, John Wetzel, Will Holden, Zack Golditch, Coleman Shelton
G (4): Justin Pugh, Colby Gossett, Rees Odhiambo, Jeremy Vujnovich, Justin Evans
C (3): Mason Cole, Daniel Munyer, A.Q. Shipley
DT (5): Corey Peters, Robert Nkemdiche, Olsen Pierre, Vincent Valentine, Pasoni Tasini
ILB (8): Josh Bynes, Jeremy Cash, Dennis Gardeck, Zeke Turner, Joe Walker, Gabe Martin, Thurston Armbrister, Pete Robertson
OLB (5): Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick, Zach Moore, Vontarrius Dora, Cameron Malveaux
CB (4): Patrick Peterson, Brandon Williams, Deatrick Nichols, Chris Jones, Jonathan Moxley
S (5): Budda Baker,Antoine Bethea, D.J. Swearinger, Rudy Ford, Jonathan Owens
ST (3): Zane Gonzalez, Aaron Brewer, Andy Lee
So now we take a look at which players we would start if we had to play with this roster heading into game one of next year. Your lineup may look different than mine, but here is what I would do:
WR: Tolliver—-I think he is going to be outstanding.
LT: Humphries—-hopefully not at $9.6M.
LG: Pugh—-move him over.
RG: Wetzel—-I love him at RT, but he’s one of the best 5 OL so he plugs in here for now.
- if you notice—-I am projecting a return to the 34 base defense.
LDE: Peters—-Nkemdiche is likely a week 6-8 return
LOLB: Reddick—-this is his most natural position.
$LB: Cash—-made to order for this position, if healthy.
FS: Swearinger—-man it’s great to have him back.
RCB: Deatrich Nichols—-I think in year two he will challenge for playing time.
Question marks and areas of need:
QB—-When you have the rare opportunity to pick this high in a draft, you have to consider the top QBs in the class. If Justin Herbert (6-5, 232, Oregon) and Dwayne Haskins (6-3, 218, Ohio St.) declare for the draft, they are going to shoot up draft boards because of their modern-day offense playmaking abilities. At this point, it is difficult to ascertain whether Josh Rosen is a franchise QB.
RB—-I continue to wonder whether the Cardinals should convert David Johnson to WR. I agree with BA, that DJ could be a top 5 WR for years to come. The Cardinals need a #1 WR and Johnson could be all of that and more (reverses, jet sweeps, etc.).
WR—-Even if Fitz returns, adding a good FA and talented draft pick remain a necessity.
LT—-How can the Cardinals justify paying Humphries his $9.6M 5th year option? They need to get DJ to agree to a one-year incentive laden contract based on games started and level of performance.
RG—-we need a good FA or high draft pick.
RT—-I like Wetzel and/or Cunningham here, but will the coaches?
TE—-We need a significant upgrade here. Josh Rosen is at his best when he is throwing darts to his TEs.
DE—-With Nkemdiche out for 6-8 games, this position becomes a high priority.
NT—-Peters would be good here, but we need to add another run stuffer. Re-signing Rodney Gunter would be a plus.
SILB—-Is Bynes physical enough to be the answer here? Is he better off at $LB? Dennis Gardeck has the physical attributes and tackling ability to make a splash, but needs some experience. I think adding a FA ILB would be very wise. We need run stuffers, big-time.
$LB—-I am a Jeremy Cash fan going back to his years at Duke, but he will have to be fully recovered from his knee injury, so that’s no given. I think Bynes might be productive here. Furthermore, I am fascinated with Zeke Turner in this role.
Edge—-I believe that Haason Reddick can shine in this role as a 34 SOLB, but we need another edge rusher. Re-signing Markus Golden to an incentive deal would be one answer. Of course, drafting Nick Bosa could make the pass rush all the more explosive.
RCB—-not only is this a major need, depth at CB is needed.
S—-adding a talented, young FS to back up Swearinger and help out in the nickel would be wise. At SS, Budda Baker, Jonathan Owens (has talent, if healthy), Rudy Ford and Zeke Turner is a good combination of young talent and STs aces.
K—-In light of Zane Gonzalez’s struggles with accuracy, I have been hoping the Cardinals would re-sign Matt McCrane this week—-even if it’s to the practice squad. Still can’t understand how the Cardinals could argue with McCrane’s 100% accuracy (from 54 yards and within) with Brewer and Lee as his his long snapper and holder.
Thus—-heading into free agency and the draft (assuming Rosen’s the QB1)—-I would rate the top needs as:
- WR (assuming Fitz returns)
Getting stronger up front and more athletic to defend inside the box and on the perimeter is top priority.
What are your thoughts about the roster and team need priorities?