So here we go again!
I wanted to try a new exercise where the fans could assemble the all-time team for the Arizona Cardinals in the days leading up to a much anticipated training camp.
You take ONE game on a neutral field, pick the best player and go position by position, with Cards fans voting to assemble the greatest game-day roster of Arizona Cardinals in franchise history, period.
Again: Here’s a few of the rules and guidelines
-All players must have played for the Arizona Cardinals and players must be remembered as Cardinals foremost, or for a majority of their career (aka saying “Boomer Esiason is the greatest Cardinal quarterback ever” because he was a great QB doesn’t count)
-No impossible offensive alignments (ex. putting four tight ends on the field or finding 6 wide receivers)
-Talent wins over longevity (the goal is to find the team you’d take to win in a game) but that doesn’t mean players who played for the Cardinals forever shouldn’t be counted...
-St. Louis Cardinals do count, and if there’s an argument to be made for a Chicago Cardinal they can be included (however, it might be rare to pick them to win a single game on a field compared to today’s players unless they were the caliber of Jim Brown, for example and we’ll get to that in a second)
With that let’s look at the tight end position.
Let me warn you....it’s rough.
Is there a tight end worthy?
I would say there probably are one or two.
But it’s historically been maybe the weakest skill position in the entire Cardinals history. They’ve only ever had one tight end catch over 50 balls in a season and only 2-3 catch 40 or more.
That means that Rob Housler’s on this list (!) Yup, it’s miserable. The desert hasn’t been favorable to the position and even with some big plays at times it’s hard to find a cardinal who is actually good for more than 1 season even. Sometimes, like Todd Heap, they aren’t even all that good.
With that here’s my three finalists and ones to vote from for the all time team.
Tight End (1):
#1. Freddie Jones (2002-2004)
The fact that we have to go all the way back to Jones, a player who probably had his best years as a San Diego Charger, shows that we’re probably already breaking the “rules” I’d set out but really, there’s not enough guys to remember “Oh! He was a Cardinal” to make it count.
Jones played for 3 years and caught 144 passes for 1300 yards and 6 touchdowns before retiring at age 30. In today’s NFL that yardage and TD total at least might be a great season for a player like Travis Kelce or George Kittle, eh?
2. Jermaine Gresham (2015-2018)
Maybe the longest tenured, most reliable Cardinal at the position, Gresham is also probably remembered by many as a Cincinnati Bengal but even with the four years spent in AZ he didn’t eclipse Jones’s numbers but had one good season with the team for 37 catches for almost 400 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was still more of a blocker for Bruce Arians but stepped up when the team needed a 3rd receiver in 2016.
Overall, he had 97 catches for 1,100 yards, 6 touchdowns and is currently not signed by an NFL team after Arizona released him.
3. Jackie Smith (1967-1973)
And here we finally have a good tight end with some longevity, eh?
Smith’s production blows the other two away, with 480 catches for 7918 yards and 40 (!) receiving touchdowns for the St. Louis Cardinals under Jim Hart and the Don “Air” Coryell offense.
Probably no one comes close and with 15 total seasons played, it’s arguably the case that no one might EVER come close unless Arizona finds a Gronkowski-like talent in the next decade or two.
I think the talent level of the other two is higher in today’s NFL specifically...but as far as longevity and production....there’s no question. And hey, it’s the fans who get to decide!
Also of note: If it wasn’t obvious by now we’ll have only 1 tight end on the field on offense and one running back on the field meaning that there will be THREE wide receivers in 11 personel. That will be where the fun begins to vote starting next Monday.
So what do you think, Arizona Cardinals fans? Vote now!
Who is the all-time Tight End for the Arizona Cardinals?
This poll is closed