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The Athletic FA Predictions Top 100: 3 Cardinals

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Athletic put out an article today in which they predicted the free agent signings on their Top 100 UFA board. It’s a fun read:

https://theathletic.com/1651905/2020/03/11/nfl-free-agency-predictions-matching-teams-with-the-top-100-players/?source=dailyemail

The results for the Cardinals here may disappoint a number of you, but based on GM Steve Keim’s recent caveat about the poor odds of “overspending” in free agency, the three signing might be right in line with Keim’s philosophy:

The Cardinals sign 3 from the bottom third of The Athletic’s Top 100:

67. Vic Beasley, OLB/DE, Falcons.

74. Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals.

82. Derek Wolfe, 34DE, Broncos.

My guess, salary wise, is Beasley gets $8M per., Drake gets $6M per and Wolfe gets $7M per, with performance and playoff berth incentives added for all three.

Scott Bordow of The Atlantic wrote an article today wherein he predicted Beasley, Drake and Wolfe heading to the Cardinals—-so maybe The Athletic NFL beat writers made their matches. Here is the link to Bordow’s article:

https://theathletic.com/1670619/2020/03/12/help-for-kyler-murray-and-more-a-six-step-program-as-free-agency-approaches/

We know that the Cardinals have expressed interest in re-signing RB Kenyan Drake and there has been a degree of speculation that the Cardinals would like to trade RB David Johnson to a team like the Bucs and pay half his $10.2M 2020 base salary, and use the half they save to sign Drake.

We also know that the Cardinals are one of three teams interested in Derek Wolfe. Wolfe is coming off a 7 sack season at the right time. But, at 30, he is unlikely to command a double figure a year salary.

While I haven’t seen or heard any reports that the Cardinals have expressed interest in Vic Beasley, Seth Cox mentioned Beasley as a player the Cardinals might have been interested in adding at last year’s trade deadline. Here is what Seth had to say at the time:

“Beasley has fallen off since his sophomore year where both he and DT Leonard Williams looked poised to be NFL stars. After 15.5 sacks in his second year, Beasley has registered just 10 sacks combined the next two seasons and only has 1.5 sacks this season.”

Beasley came on strong the second half of the season and finished with 8 sacks and 12 QB hits. He has the requisite athleticism to be a 3 down player at SAM 34OLB, nickel rush DE, as he ran a 4.53 at the Combine. In that respect, he would be a better fit in Vance Jospeh’s scheme than Markus Golden. Beasley turns 28 in a couple of months, while Golden turns 29 tomorrow.

The UFA SAM 34OLB, nickel edge pass rusher who intrigued me the most is Kamalei Correa (Titans). While he hasn’t had a breakout year, sack-wise, like Beasley and Golden had in their 2nd seasons, Correa was a standout during the Titans’ run to the AFC Championship game, causing havoc and disruption for Deshaun Watson, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

Correa is, imo, made to order for Vance Joseph’s 34, because with his athleticism and 4.6 speed at 6-3, 241 and this past season he earned a 90.3 PFF grade in coverage, while creating 14 QB pressures and 4 sacks. In April Correa turns 26 and I feel confident that he is player who will shine in his prime.

I feel the same way about ILB Nick Kwiatowski of the Bears. He has all of the makings of becoming a perennial stalwart at ILB, coming off his best season as a pro (72.6 PFF grade, with high marks in tackling and in pass coverage). At 6-2, 242, he is about the same size and age (26) as Kamalei Correa, and was very effective on inside blitzes, creating 14 QB pressures and 3 sacks.

While I feel good about Derek Wolfe, especially knowing that he has already played for two years in Vance Joseph’s defense, I wonder if it would be wiser to pursue a younger, more explosive defensive tackle like Javon Hargrave or Leonard Williams with the idea of inking one of them to a 4-5 year deal.

In order to aid and abet the signing of a stud DT like Hargrave or Williams, perhaps the Cardinals should turn their attention at RB to the 2020 NFL Draft. Whether the Cardinals trade David Johnson or not—-there are a number of fascinating RB fits in this draft for the Cardinals—-three of which have captured my imagination in Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU) and Zach Moss (Utah). The other wild card for me, if he slides to #40 is Laviska Shenault, who Kingsbury can play at both RB and WR.

So, in summary, I wonder whether saving some money in adding OLB Kamalei Correa and ILB Nick Kwiatowski, plus in drafting a RB instead of signing Kenyan Drake to a $6 a year deal, would allow the Cardinals to sign a stud DT like Hargrave, Williams or D.J. Reader (Texans).

FYI—-here are The Athletic’s predictions for UFAs we have been discussing as potential players of interest for the Cardinals:

5. WR Amari Cooper—-Cowboys

6. DI Chris Jones—-Chiefs

7. OLB/DE Yannick Ngakoue—-Seahawks

9. CB Byron Jones—-Eagles

15. ILB Cory Littleton—-Giants

16. DI Arik Armstead—-Browns

18. G Brandon Scherff—-Redskins

25. RT Jack Conklin—-Browns

26. WR Robbie Anderson—-Broncos

28. DI Javon Hargrave—-Lions

30. RT Brian Bulaga—-Chargers

35. DI D.J. Reader—-Broncos

40. ILB Joe Schobert—-Raiders

42. TE Austin Hooper—-Packers

60. TE Eric Ebron—-Falcons

66. DE Jason Pierre-Paul—-Ravens

69. DE Markus Golden—-Bucs

88. ILB Nick Kwiatowski—-Packers

94. C Connor McGovern—-Jets

97. OLB Kamalei Correa—-Texans

100. CB Brian Poole—-Saints

Which players here do you hope the Cardinals will intercept?

Would you be happy with PFF 3 predictions for the Cardinals: OLB/DE Vic Beasley, RB Kenyan Drake and 34DE Derek Wolfe?

What are your hopes for free agency?