The Arizona Cardinals are still a couple of weeks away from training camp and we all know how GM Steve Keim has a knack for adding solid veterans on cheap, short-term deals right before or during camp. The Cardinals, by all accounts, have done a nice job of filling holes all over the roster with quality signings this offseason.
One of the more notable signings has been Jordan Hicks, an inside linebacker who was signed as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles. He is seen as a guy that can control the defense while on the field and be effective in defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s scheme.
Across from Hicks is embattled third year player Haason Reddick. A former first round pick, Reddick has not done much as of yet to solidify his draft status, but reports have come out that he finally feels comfortable in what he is being asked to do on defense.
But what happens if something, ya know, happens?
Hicks has never been an incredibly durable player through his first four years in the NFL. Over the past two seasons, he has played just 19 games. Can he be counted on to stay healthy and quarterback the defense for a full 16 game season?
As for Reddick, health hasn’t been his issue. His biggest issue thus far in his career has been not getting caught up in the fast pace of the game and complex offenses that the opponents run. Granted, Reddick will be on his third defensive coordinator with the third different playbook in as many years, so the hope is that with some time and consistency, he can start resembling the player the Cardinals were hoping to get when they took him 13th overall.
But if Hicks gets hurt or if Reddick gets overwhelmed, what is the backup plan in place? Dennis Gardeck, an undrafted free agent from last season, figures to take over for either one, but if that person were to be Hicks, the Cardinals would be left with a lot of inexperience at a crucial position.
This is a position that the Cardinals will likely look to address with a key veteran free agent signing during camp. Someone like Josh Bynes, whom the team cut earlier in the offseason, would make some sense to bring back given his familiarity with the team. Manti Te’o is another veteran that is still on the open market and could probably be had for cheap on a one-year contract. Lastly, Gerald Hodges is another guy that is familiar with the team and could be had for another year.
It will be interesting to see how the Cardinals decide to address this lack of depth, but I would almost bet that Steve Keim has his eyes on a veteran to bring in relatively soon.