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Three inside ‘backers for the Arizona Cardinals in free agency

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The Arizona Cardinals have plenty of work to do in gaining respect within their linebacker unit.

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It comes to no surprise to anyone reading that the Arizona Cardinals have plenty of holes to fill all throughout their roster heading into the 2019 season. Based on what we saw from the dismal 2018 season, there’s virtually no positions on the roster that couldn’t stand to see an upgrade.

With a shift back to the 3-4, the Arizona Cardinals could be pretty well set at outside linebacker with Chandler Jones, (potentially) Markus Golden and any draft choices they select. But it is at inside linebacker where things look a bit more unsettled.

Josh Bynes has been a terrific addition to the inside linebacker group, but beyond him there are a lot of questions marks. Haason Reddick hasn’t come close to living up to his first round pick draft status. Deone Bucannon is a free agent and isn’t likely to return to the desert. And everyone else is either a free agent or a journeyman that will bring you average at best play.

What the Cardinals need is a true infusion of talent at the position. They need a player that can make tackles sideline to sideline and make big third down plays and force turnovers. Luckily enough, there are some players available in free agency that may be able to do those needed things.

Kwon Alexander

Before Alexander’s injury woes over the past couple of seasons, he was seen as one of the rising young star linebackers in the game. He is speedy enough to play the WILB position and is an absolute tackling machine. Alexander is still young and may be willing to play on a “prove-it” type of deal in 2019. He does come with some risks, as he does miss a lot of tackles, as noted by Kyle Marks over at Bucs Nation. But in order to get an electric player, sometimes taking some risks on injury history or missed tackles is a necessity.

K.J. Wright

How sweet would it be to steal a key defensive piece from a divisional rival? K.J. Wright is set to turn 30 years old before the season starts, but he could be the perfect player to pair with Bynes and take instructions from new DC Vance Joseph on defense. He has championship pedigree and knows what a good defense looks like, which means something. Wright only played five games last year, but he has mostly been a very dependable player throughout the duration of his career.

Mychal Kendricks

The previously two aforementioned players come with some slight injury risk, but that isn’t really the case with Kendricks. Instead, it is his off-field activities that have some wondering if he will be available for his team next season.

Still, Pro Football Focus lists him at 6th on their top free agent inside linebackers list for his “strong resume”. He is only 28 years old and can be a strong contributor for whichever team he signs with. He likely won’t be signed until after April 4th, his sentencing date for his insider trading case.

For those wondering, I don’t expect Arizona to move on from Haason Reddick, which means I don’t expect the team to spend big time money in securing a player like Anthony Barr or C.J. Mosley, two of the top available inside linebackers on the free agent market. I think they will look to sign a “comeback” type of player for a year or two in the hopes that Reddick finally figures it all out in yet another new defensive scheme (his third different playbook in as many years).

Who would you want the Cardinals to try and sign (if anyone) to play inside linebacker? Let us know in the comments below!