Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) does a fabulous job of ranking the position groups of each team heading into free agency. Note: these ranking exclude the team’s current free agents. Plus, he offers a free agency cheat sheet where he ranks all the top free agents per position. Check it out:
When I added up the points on offense and defense and overall totals, here is what they look like for the NFC West:
ARI—-Offense (28)—-Defense (35)—-Total (63)
LAR—-Offense (40)—-Defense (31)—-Total (71)
SF4—-Offense (32)—-Defense (27)—-Total (59)
SEA—-Offense (33)—-Defense (25)—-Total (58)
What’s interesting about Clay’s rankings here is that right now he has the Cardinals as having the worst offensive personnel in the division and the Cardinals as having the best defensive personnel. Obviously, the recent signings of CB Robert Alford and OLB Brooks Reed have bolstered the Cardinals’ rankings at CB (9) and EDGE (8).
Notice too that heading into free agency, Clay rated the Cardinals’ personnel 2nd in the division behind the Rams.
Ok, so let’s take a look at each position and how the Cardinals stack up versus their NFC West rivals. Remember it’s the entire unit, starters and depth.
QB: SEA (9), LAR (7), SF4 (7), ARI (5)—-LAST
RB: LAR (9), ARI (9), SEA (6), SF4 (5)—-TIED FOR FIRST
WR: LAR (9), SEA (8), ARI (5), SF4 (4)—-THIRD
TE: SF4 (9), LAR (7), SEA (6), ARI (5)—-LAST
OL: LAR (8), SF4 (7), ARI (4), SEA (4)—-TIED FOR LAST
Cardinals’ biggest needs: QB, WR, TE, OL
INT: LAR (8), SF4 (7), AZ (4), SEA (3)—-THIRD
EDGE: ARI (8), SF4 (6), LAR (4), SEA (4)—-FIRST
LB: SEA (7), ARI (6), LAR (5), SF4 (5)—-SECOND
CB: LAR (9), ARI (9), SF4 (6), SEA (3)—-TIED FOR FIRST
S: ARI (8), SEA (8), LAR (5), SF4 (3)—-TIED FOR FIRST
Cardinals’ biggest needs: INT, LB
I hope that Mike Clay revises these rankings after free agency, so that we can see them prior to the 2019 NFL Draft.
But, what we see from Mike Clay is encouraging. The Cardinals may not be as far behind personnel-wise from the rest of the division than one might think.
According to Sportrac, as of today, here is what each NFC West team has in terms of 2019 cap space (rounded):
The Cardinals can up that figure by trimming some of the higher contracts—-and with more cap space heading their way in 2020,—-they can sign free agents to year one cap friendly deals, if they wish.
Here is where Mike Clay ranks the Cardinals’ own free agents:
J.J. Nelson—-22nd WR
Mike Iupati—-6th G
Joe Barksdale—-6th T
Rodney Gunter—-17th DT
Markus Golden—-21st EDGE
Gerald Hodges—-16th LB
Deone Bucannon—-20th LB
Tre Boston—-6th S
This is good news and bad news—-the good news is that for those we would like to re-sign, their price tags should be very affordable. The bad news is that the Cardinals probably won’t be garnering any 2020 compensatory picks, as it is hard to imagine any of these players getting lucrative contracts.
But the good news on the bad news is—-this year in free agency, Steve Keim should acquire as many free agents as he can because he doesn’t have to worry about 2020 comp picks.
Thank you for your fine work, Mike Clay. You made my day.