Keim made his annual free agency splash with the move for DeAndre Hopkins. Now that the crown jewel is in place, what’s next for the Cardinals? There are obviously many moves to shore up the depth of the roster, but for now I want to look at the biggest remaining needs.
Everson Griffen (EDGE):
Arguably the biggest need on the team, (and in my opinion, not-so-arguably) the well has dried up a bit thanks to several franchise tags. A tag and trade would presumably be out of the question given the trade for Hopkins, and I’ve already touched on why a Clowney deal isn’t so palatable. So what to do?
Luckily, (or not so much) the franchise has time. This was never to be a quick rebuild, and so the search for a young edge rusher to pair with Chandler Jones continues.
In the meantime, I think the team would do well to shore up the position with Everson Griffen. The former Viking may be a little long in the tooth, but I’m banking on that working in the team’s favor. The box score may not excite (8 sacks, 11 TFL) but he still has plenty left in the tank as a pass rusher, grading above other fan favorite targets like Arik Armstead and Jason Pierre-Paul, and nearly even with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue. (Per PFF)
Backup plan: Robert Quinn would also be nice, but with an estimated market value of around $12m per year and rumors of a return to Dallas, that doesn’t seem likely.
Josh Bynes (Linebacker):
A player that should have never been cut, Bynes improved on his time with Arizona during his stint with Baltimore - finishing with PFF’s sixth highest grade among off-ball linebackers. I know many would like to see more put into the position, but this is one of the spots where you can get the most bang for your buck. More importantly, it’s not a move the either prohibits the team from addressing LB in the draft nor does it force them into overdrafting for “need”.
Backup plan: While lacking in run defense, Nigel Bradham still grades favorably in coverage and would be a complimentary addition next to Jordan Hicks.
Shelby Harris (Defensive Line/Interior):
Walter has already been on this, and I’m 100% with him in bringing Harris in. From his free agency predictions:
at 6-3, 300, 28, Harris is in his prime. Sportrac predicts a contract of 3 years for $16.5M ($5.5M a season) with $7M guaranteed. I think those figures are a little low and would expect Harris to command something more like a 3 year $20M contract with $10M guaranteed. 2019 stats: 45 tackles, 28 QB pressures, 6 sacks. PFF grade for DIs with over 500 snaps: 76.8 (#13 DI). Shelby is a better all-around DT than Derek Wolfe and even out-graded Wolfe this past season in pass rushing efficiency.
Harris has had an up and down career and there are questions if that may go hand in hand with his workload, but when Harris is on he is a coveted blend of pass rush and run stuffing ability. And unlike my previous targets, gives the Cardinals a long term option.
Backup plan: There’s a plethora of options available. I’m not as bullish as others on the more NT-inclined players like Jordan Phillips and Michael Pierce, I feel similarly so about a stop-gap vet such as Linval Joseph or Mike Daniels. Ultimately I think it’d be best to see a Timmy Jernigan, Gerald McCoy or Maliek Collins added to the roster.
What do you think? Do you this potential collection of free agents a satisfying haul?