· Ron Wolfley said this week that he believes the Cardinals are keeping RT Jared Veldheer and that T Andre Davis was signed for depth. If that’s true the Cardinals would be paying $14M on the cap for its two RTs. Seth Cox believes that the Cardinals are trying to work out a trade for Veldheer and I concur. Good tackles are always in demand. The question is---what team would be willing to take on Veldheer’s salary of $6.7M?
· Leave it to the Chiefs to pilfer RFA DT Xavier Williams from the Cardinals. They knew that the Cardinals are up against the cap and could not afford to match their offer to Williams. Williams, while he only played in 11 games was PFF’s second highest graded run stopper at a shade over 14%. He is a Kansas City native so this signing is an odyssey for him. The good news for the Cardinals is that they have now added close to $5M in cap space with the departures of DE Josh Mauro and DT Xavier Williams.
· With the defections of Williams (Chiefs), Kareem Martin (Giants) and Josh Mauro (Giants) the Cardinals are suddenly lacking front line depth. At DT they have Corey Peters, Robert Nkemdiche, Rodney Gunter and Olsen Pierre, which is promising if all of them can stay healthy. Pasoni Tasini and Peli Anau now have a stronger chance to make the roster, but DT may now be a draft need in a draft crowded with other needs. At DE the Cardinals have Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, but beyond that there are no sure bets. Again, depth at DE now becomes a pressing need in a draft where the Cardinals may need to use some of their 7 picks to move up.
· In the FA market, it appears that the Cardinals and CB Tramon Williams are $1M apart---Williams wants $3M and the Cardinals are offering $2M. WR Jordan Matthews and CB E.J. Gaines are looking for somewhere in the neighborhood of $5M a year. Both players have injury histories, but could be key puzzle pieces, if they are good to go this year. It’s perhaps more likely that the Cardinals will sign slot CB Robert McClain and hope to reach a compromise with Tramon Williams---that way---they get two CBs for the price of one, which would mitigate the need to draft a CB this year. What they really need is a combo S/CB in the Tyvon Branch mode who can match up with TEs and bigger slot WRs and play the deep half in tandem with FS Antoine Bethea on occasion in Cover 2.
· My favorite player in this draft is QB Lamar Jackson. I believe that he would electrify the Cardinals’ offense in ways we have never seen. I am enamored with this kid’s toughness, humble leadership by example and sheer eagerness to do whatever it takes to win football games. If Jackson is still on the board at #8 (his number), I would love to see the Cardinals trade up to the Bears’ spot to acquire Jackson. The Bears have been a willing trade partner and they are still trying to recover some picks after the Trubisky trade. I think that if the Cardinals offered the #15 and #79 picks, plus next year’s 2nd round pick, they could get this deal done. For those thinking that Jackson will still be on the board at #15---if the Cardinals want Jackson---can they afford to take the risk of the Chargers and Saints trading up in front of them like the Chiefs (Mahomes) and the Texans (Watson) did last year?
· Christian Kirk (Texas A&M and Scottsdale native) is my favorite WR in this draft because I think he is the most versatile (outside, slot, punt returner) and he has the most electrifying RAC (run after catch) ability. On NFL Network in a recent interview, Kirk said that he has already met with the Cardinals (which included going out to dinner with the coaches) and that it would be a dream come true for him if the Cardinals select him. If the top QBs were gone at #15, perhaps the Cardinals would be happy to take Kirk there. But if the Cardinals take a QB at #15, it’s quite possible they will try to trade up to take Kirk. Many mocks have him going in Round 2. However, because the draft class is not deep at WR, Kirk has an excellent chance of being drafted in the 20s or early 30s. Might be tough for the Cardinals to pull off---but potentially well worth it.