One of the best things the Cardinals have going for them on the advent of free agency is that they have an unusual amount of inside intel on free agents that some of the new coaches on the staff have worked with on a daily basis. Steve Wilks, Al Holcomb, Ray Brown and Cameron Turner have a full knowledge of the Carolina Panthers’ FAs. OC Mike McCoy ---Broncos and Chargers. STC Jeff Rodgers---Bears. DBC David Merritt---Giants. RBC Kirby Wilson---Browns. TEC Jason Michael---Titans.
Therefore, in today’s FA plan, let’s take a gander at some of the possible free agent candidates the Cardinals would have close knowledge of and possible interest in. At QB, the top options don’t have any direct ties to Cardinals coaches, but, at other positions the options are numerous.
2018 Starting QB:
Option A: Kirk Cousins (Redskins)---David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson have been trying like mad to recruit Cousins. Cousins has not yet tipped his hand and as of right now it appears that the Cardinals have a chance.
Option B: Case Keenum (Vikings)---if Cousins signs with the Vikings, Keenum could be the next best option, coming off a 13-3 season and his playoff heroics versus the Saints. He lacks elite arm strength, but he plays smart and is fairly mobile and accurate. Would love the challenge of taking on Wilson, Goff and Garoppolo.
Option C: A.J. McCarron (Bengals)---McCarron wants a fresh start as he heads into his prime. He’s considered a good game manager who can keep turnovers to a minimum and win close games.
Option D: Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings)---both have enticing talent, but have question marks about durability.
Option A: Nick Foles (Eagles)---Super Bowl MVP who has Arizona ties.
Option B: Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins)---the Dolphins apparently have major interest in Baker Mayfield and could choose to trade Tannehill who is returning very quickly per reports from a partially torn ACL . Tannehill’s a good athlete who possesses an above average arm.
Backup QB Options:
Option A: Mike Glennon (Bears)---Steve Keim knows Glennon very well and has reportedly shown interest in him on prior occasions. Jeff Rodgers saw Glennon up close last year in Chicago and could shed some light on Glennon’s brief tenure there. His PFF rating last year was 71.7. Not great, but not awful either. Inherited a tough situation and would have won game one versus the Falcons had Jordan Howard caught a well-thrown wide open pass at the goal line late.
Option B: Geno Smith (Giants)---played reasonably well in his short stint subbing in for Eli Manning. He’s hoping to sign with a team that will allow him to compete for the starting job. This could be a good spot for him.
Option C: Kellen Clemens (Chargers)---has worked with Mike McCoy and is a solid veteran backup.
Option A: DeMarco Murray (Titans)---one year removed from leading the AFC in rushing, Murray would be the perfect compliment to David Johnson in that their styles are very similar. Both are hard runners and good receivers out of the backfield. Jason Michael could have a say in this hire.
Option B: Isaiah Crowell (Browns)---Kirby Wilson has always lauded Crowell’s ability and approach. He’s only 25, has over 3,000 rushing at 4.2 ypc and 21 TDs thus far. In 2016 he had over 300 yards in receiving.
Option C: Jonathan Stewart (Panthers)---he’s a classic ground and pound RB whom Wilks, Brown and Turner know well. Wilks wants to pound the ball, so Stewart would make sense as a backup to David Johnson.
Other potential RB options with ties to Cardinals’ coaches: Branden Oliver (Chargers), Benny Cunningham (Bears), Shane Vereen (Giants), Orleans Darkwa (Giants), Jamal Charles (Broncos).
Option A: Trey Burton (Eagles)---TE with WR skills and versatility.
Option B: Antonio Gates (Chargers)---still has “juice” he says and could be a fabulous leader and mentor for Ricky Seals-Jones.
Option C: Ed Dickson (Panthers)---solid veteran who can block and catch.
Option D: Virgil Green (Broncos)---still waiting for a breakout season. Perhaps a chance of scenery would do him well.
Option A: G Andrew Norwell (Panthers)---prize Pro Bowl UFA who will command $12M a year and has strong ties to Wilks and Brown. PFF grade: 88.8.
Option B: G Josh Sitton (Bears)---coming off impressive 86.0 season, despite ankle injury.
Option C: G Josh Kline (Titans)---solid RG who earned a PFF grade of 75.8. Has ties to Jason Michael.
Option D: C Weston Richburg (Giants)---talented veteran coming off a concussion riddled season.
Option E: G John Greco (Giants)---coming off solid 77.6 grade season.
Option F: C/G Matt Slausen (Chargers)---could be an instant upgrade in the pivot if healthy. Has strong ties to Mike McCoy. Has good leadership qualities.
Other potential OL with ties: C Brian Schwenke (Titans), T Tim Compton (Bears), G/T Allen Barbre (Broncos), T Donald Stephenson (Broncos), T Chris Hairston (Chargers), G Amin Silatolu (Panthers).
Option A: Paul Richardson (Seahawks)---speedy, clutch WR on verge of stardom.
Option B: Taylor Gabriel (Falcons)---swift, home run threat catch-and-go WR .
Option C: Eric Decker (Titans)---coming of so-so 71.8 season, but remains one of the better chain movers in the league.
Option D: Cody Latimer (Broncos)---76.1 grade in 2017 who, with more of a role in the offense, could be on the verge of a breakout season.
Option E: Kendall Wright (Bears)---one of the shiftier slot WRs coming off 76.3 season with 59 catches for 614 yards. Career stats: 3339/3,858/11.4/19 TDs.
Option A: Brenton Bersin (Panthers)---STs force and possession WR at 6-3, 210.
Option B: Tavarres King (Giants)---blazer from Georgia who could surprise given a greater opportunity.
Option A: Cairo Santos (Bears)---Bears signed him once healthy after Chiefs had to release him. Made 4/5 FG and 31/35 FG for Chiefs in 2016. Jeff Rodgers worked with him and could make a push for him.
Up Next: Defense