Here is a list of the Cardinals’ 2020 fee agents (thanks to Sportrac). In each case, I will offer some thoughts and would like to hear your thoughts, because there are many difficult decisions here.
Free Agent—-Position—-Age—-2019 Salary—-Status (UFA/RFA/ERFA)
- Larry Fitzgerald WR 37—-$11,000,000—-UFA-YES—-OFFER: ($8M)
I think it’s fair this year to ask Fitz to play for $8M instead of $11-12M. $8M still puts him in the top ten of TE salaries, and Fitz’s niche in the K-Raid is at “Y” receiver, which is essentially a flex TE. Fitz earned a 70.3 PFF grade and led the team in receiving with 75 catches for 804 yards (10.7 ave.) and 4 TDs.
Marcus Gilbert RT 32—-$6,163,000—-UFA-
- Not sure whether Gilbert wants to play in 2020 or retire. If he wants to play, he would likely have to accept some sort of an incentives contract based on number of starts. Justin Murray was very solid at RT (could and perhaps should remain the starter in 2020 as an ERFA) and I have a hunch that Sean Kugler and Brian Natkin see very good potential in their early season waiver wire claim from the Eagles, 6-6, 291 RT Brett Toth and in 6-6, 313 William Sweet (who spent the season on IR). Thus, the Cardinals may feel they are good with whom they already have.
- D.J. Humphries LT 26—-$2,228,028—-UFA-YES—-OFFER: ($11M)
- The Cardinals would like to keep the offensive line together. D.J. did his part by starting all 16 games and having a good season (PFF grade of 64.5, 76.5 pass blocking—-only gave up 2 sacks, 1 QB hit, 27 QB hurries, but committed 13 penalties). What makes sense is a contract with a base salary of $11M plus games started and performance incentives. The LT market is not very deep this year—-so D.J. and his agent may want to go with the highest bidder. The 2019 franchise tag for offensive linemen was $14.2M, but that figure could go up. It’s quite possible that Steve Keim will slap the f-tag on D.J. if the two sides are far apart in the early negotiations. To me, D.J.’s history of injuries should not be ignored, which is why an incentives deal makes sense. If D.J. and his agent are unwilling to compromise where that is concerned, then the Cardinals should probably move on. But, knowing Steve Keim, they won’t. They will most likely hold D.J. hostage on the f-tag and hope for a repeat performance of this season, which the Cardinals could end up regretting, as it will cost them a little over 1/5th of their $70M cap space.
Charles Clay TE 31—-$2,000,000—-UFA-
- The TE group looks set with Maxx Williams, Dan Arnold and Darrell Daniels, if Fitz returns.
- Max Garcia G 28—-$2,000,000—-YES—-OFFER: ($1.5M)
- Having rehabbed for most of the season on a $2M salary and not played a snap, Garcia should be willing to take a 2020 deal worth a little over $1M. He gives the team veteran experience at G and C.
A.Q. Shipley C 34—-$2,000,000—-UFA—-
- The Cardinals are currently trying to negotiate a 2020 contract extension with A.Q. and it would be interesting to know what kind of figures A.Q.’s agent is talking. A.Q. will likely want to be compensated for being a 2019 captain and starter for 16 games, coming off a season on the IR in 2018 (ACL). A guess would be that they are asking for something like a 2 year $10M contract. Steve Keim will probably agree to something close to that, despite drafting 3 centers in the last 4 years. This is classic Keim and one of the main reasons why the Cardinals’ roster is so thin at some positions when Keim does not put faith in his own draft picks. Shipley’s 2019 PFF grades: 57.8 overall, 71. 5 pass blocking, 50.7 run blocking. He gave up 2 sacks, 14 QB hurries and committed 4 penalties.
- Brett Hundley QB 27—-$1,875,000—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($3M)
- Brett Hundley proved his worth as Kyler’s backup (80.4 PFF grade on 35 snaps). He said he would like to return. He deserves a raise and $3M a year sounds about right. Something like 3 years at $10M with incentives.
- Rodney Gunter DE 28—-$1,750,000—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($2M)
- The Cardinals are woefully thin at DT/34DE. Rodney Gunter played in 14 games, earning a 64.8 PFF grade, 65.3 in run defense and 64.7 in pass rush (30 pressures: 5 sacks, 20 QB hurries and 5 QB hits). Gunter would be good to keep in the rotation and hopefully the Cardinals could sign him to a 2 or 3 year deal at somewhere between $2-3M a year.
Brooks Reed OLB 33—-$1,625,000—-UFA-
- This year dod not turn out as planned for Brooks Reed.
Jordan Mills RT 29—-$1,250,000——UFA-
- Cardinals like him, but as previously discussed, but they already have some depth at right tackle.
Clinton McDonald DE 33—-$1,250,000—-UFA-
- McDonald gave good effort, but couldn’t hold up physically.
- Cassius Marsh OLB 28—-$1,000,000—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($1.4M)
- Marsh brings good energy as a situational edge player and STs contributor. If he will agree to a contract in the $1.4M range, he likely sticks.
Josh Shaw FS 28—-$895,000—-UFA—-
- It’s a safe bet that Shaw won’t be asked back (borrowed that pun from Vince Marotta)!
Jonathan Bullard DE 26—-$853,380—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($1.2M)
- Gave the team a boost as a run stuffer. Keeping him for rotational depth could help if he the price is right.
- Kenyan Drake RB 26—-$845,315—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($4M)
- Burns and Gambo tried repeatedly to get Drake to say he would like to re-sign with the Cardinals, but Drake never went that far. It feels like Drake was auditioning for free agency with the hope of cashing in. If he were to balk at an offer like 3 years for $14M, then let him walk. The 2020 NFL Draft is loaded with good RBs.
Chris Banjo SS 30—-$805,000—-UFA—-
- Made solid contributions on STs, but wouldn’t appear to be in the 2020 plans.
- Zach Kerr DT 30—-$805,000——UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($2M)
- Zach Kerr imposed his physical size and strength down the stretch and as is the case with Gunter and Bullard—-offer him something in the $2M range to stay.
Brandon Williams CB 27——$770,674——UFA—-
- it wouldn’t be a surprise if Steve Keim signs him to a minimum salary with no guarantees deal, just on the chance that the light bulb goes on.
- Damiere Byrd WR 27——$720,000—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($2M)
- This is a tough decision, because the Cardinals already have a WR of his speed and quickness in Andy Isabella. But, Byrd created a chemistry with Kyler that Isabella has yet to accomplish. By re-signing Byrd it could make it tougher on the 3 2019 WR draftees to progress up the WR ladder. Plus, there’s a another fast WR on a Future’s contract on the roster in Johnny Dixon and there’s the prospect of adding a UFA WR like Robby Anderson or a draft pick like Cee Dee Lamb.
- Pharoh Cooper WR 25—-$720,000—-UFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($2M)
- Pharoh Cooper is likely to get a $2M a year offer because of his return ability and clutch playmaking as a #4-#5 WR.
- Charles Washington S 27—-$645,000—-RFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($1M)
- Charles Washington is one of the best gunners in the NFL. Give him a raise as a RFA.
D.J. Foster RB 26—-$645,000—-RFA—-
- Good STs player, but not a great fit in the offense.
- Joe Walker ILB 27—-$600,000—-ERFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($1.5M)
- Joe Walker played hard and reasonably well in some of the games down the stretch, like the last one in LA where he earned a 69.3 PFF grade. As an ERFA he should be back and should continue to provide value as a backup WILB and good STs player.
- Zane Gonzalez K 25—-$600,000—-RFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($3M)
- Sign Zane Gonzalez to a 2nd round tender ($2.9M) and if he repeats his 2019 performance sign him to a top 5 K salary on a multi-year deal.
Vontarrius Dora OLB 27—-$600,000—-RFA—-
- Dora has to find a way to distinguish himself—-he has the requisite athleticism and disruptive pass rush ability to be a solid 34 OLB. Could be a sleeper.
- Kevin Peterson CB 26—-$570,000—-ERFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($670K)
- Kevin Peterson needs to get stronger this off-season. He’s got quick feet and he’s pesky in coverage when he doesn’t get out-leveraged. He’s got a chance to stick.
Jalen Davis CB 24—-$570,000—-ERFA-
Andre Chachere CB 24—-$495,000—-ERFA-
- Justin Murray T 27—-$465,000—-ERFA—-YES—-OFFER: ($3M)
- If the Cardinals are planning to keep Murray as the starting RT, something that, imo, he has earned (62.8 PFF grade, gave up only 4 sacks, just 1 over the past 6 games, 21 QB hurries, and committed just 3 penalties), then the Cardinals should give him as an ERFA some sort of a raise.
- Biggest concern: If the Cardinals re-sign Fitz and A.Q. and K.D. and put the franchise tag on D.J., then they are likely looking at spending $35M (half) of the $70M cap space on these 4 players, when so much work needs to be done on the defense.
- Biggest excitement: The thought of Fitz returning for 2020.
You play GM—-which free agents do you keep and at what salaries?