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Evaluation of Arizona Cardinals’ Expensive Contracts

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Cardinals Worthy of Their Contracts and Potential Cap Casualties

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take a look at some of the Arizona Cardinals’ current player contracts:

Chandler Jones

Cap Hit: 15.5M (2018), $19.5M (2019), $19M (2020), $18.5M (2021)

About a year ago from today, the Cardinals re-signed Chandler Jones to a five year, $82.5 million contract, with $53 million guaranteed. One year into his new deal, Jones set the Cardinals franchise record in sacks (17) in a single season. In fact, he led the NFL in sacks, QB hits, and tackles-for-loss in 2017. A pass rush that was once stagnant before his arrival is now one of the more feared units in the National Football League thanks to Jones. It wouldn’t be surprising if Steve Keim converts some of his 2019 base salary into a signing bonus to create more cap space.

Patrick Peterson

Cap Hit: $14.9M (2018), $11.9M (2019), $13.2M (2020)

Peterson will enter the third year of his five year, $70 million contract extension that he signed in 2014. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro selection. According to Pro Football Focus, Peterson allowed the fewest catches (28) and passing yards (394) among cornerbacks with at least 500 snaps in coverage in 2017. Even though he has only four interceptions and 14 pass defensed since 2016, quarterbacks fear to throw in his direction. Although we would love to see an uptick in interceptions, he has shutdown opposing teams’ top wide receivers every week. He is deserving of the contract and more.

Tyrann Mathieu

Cap Hit: $14.1M (2018), $14.1M (2019), $14.1M (2020), $9.5M (2021)

After his breakout 2015 season, Mathieu was rewarded a five year, $62.5 million contract extension. Unfortunately, his contract was extended after he tore his ACL and the output when he returned wasn’t so great. The past two seasons for him included inconsistent play and only three interceptions. $18.75 million becomes guaranteed on March 14th. With Keim being noncommittal about Mathieu’s stay with the team and the big cap hit, it seems that the honey badger could be playing in a different uniform this upcoming season.

Of course the extension made sense at the time but now, it looks like a mistake.

Jared Veldheer:

Cap Hit: $10.15M (2018)

Before Steve Keim makes a decision on Veldheer’s future, he will have to decide whether free agency would improve the right tackle position. Veldheer has been a left tackle his entire career and was forced to move to right tackle last season. Unfortunately, Arians and Veldheer found out the hard way how difficult is to play a new position. As of now the Cardinals seem content to keep him but anything could change in the coming week. They would save $6.9 million with his release.

Mike Iupati

Cap Hit: $9.7M (2018), $9.7M (2019)

Iupati has struggled in pass protection throughout his career. His struggles continued through 2016 and 2017, where he dealt with numerous of injuries. When healthy, he is one of the best run blocking guards in the NFL. But the problem is, he can’t stay healthy. Alex Boone did just fine in his place in 2017, after Iupati was placed on injury reserve with a triceps injury. With the abundance of talented guards in free agency and the draft, the Cardinals will likely move on from him. They will save $6.3 million in 2018 and $8 million in 2019.

Jermaine Gresham

Cap Hit: $7.2M (2018), $8.25M (2019), $8.75M (2020)

The Cardinals liked Gresham’s competitive attitude and his ability to block, which is why he was re-signed to a four year, $28 million contract in 2017. In the past three seasons as a Cardinal, he caught 88 passes for 936 yards and five touchdowns. Bruce Arians used him primarily as a blocker but his performance has been underwhelming. Sub-par blocking and lack of athleticism for an average of $7 million per season. Unless he improves his blocking and is more involved in the offense, he could be a potential cap casualty in 2019. The torn Achilles that he suffered at the end of last season doesn’t help his case to stay.

Contract information from overthecap.com