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The Crown Jewels of Free Agency?

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San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

**So... Fancy a peek behind the scenes? Well I initially submitted this prior to the news of some certain players being tagged. That said, I’m leaving the “irrelevant” bits up because I get into a bit of my reasoning and approach to free agency. Enjoy.**


Jared Veldheer, Mike Iupati, the trade for Chandler Jones, the extension for Chandler Jones, Justin Pugh, Jordan Hicks...With the exception of his first year, Keim usually makes one big splash in/around free agency. And like those moves, some may or may not have been the very top of the marquee players in their FA class, but still big gets. Let’s give Keim the benefit of the doubt and assume he has a few things in the works and that he hasn’t already broken the bank.

Who among the free agents that could wind up being the crown jewel of this free agency class? Well, here’s who I think they should be.

MATT JUDON / YANNICK NGAKOUE

With the return of Robert Alford and Zach Allen and a rust-free Patrick Peterson, the only dire needs on defense I see are at OLB and ILB. Luckily this class of free agents is ripe with young edge talent. Players like Jadeveon Clowney and Shaquil Barrett are likely to be too cost prohibitive, hopefully leaving the two at a more reasonable rate - reflecting how the ILB group worked out last season with Mosley, Alexander and Hicks.

The only downside being that both players may see a tag/tag and trade, throwing a wrench into this.

ARIK ARMSTEAD*

Why the asterisk? Well, I’ve struggled with this one. Armstead wasn’t initially in this piece and I’ll explain why. I know both fans and writers alike on this site have brought up Armstead as someone to go after... but he really blossomed this year in a very similar role to that of Calais Campbell’s usage in Jacksonville. That is, as a base/early down rusher off the edge and kicking inside on long/obvious passing downs.

So now you have to ask yourself two things. Can and will Vance Joseph use Armstead as he is best utilized, or will he be reduced to an interior role on the DL in the 3-4? And if he is put into that role, is that really the best use of him given the potential cost?

If he’s deployed in the proper fashion, I’m all for this. But I don’t know that I like the chances of that. I hope I’m wrong.

JAVON HARGRAVE

If an edge defender isn’t in play for the Cards, I’d give the interior of the D-line the next look. But Rob, didn’t you just say ILB was one of the bigger needs? Well, your options are basically only Cory Littleton if you want to make a big splash at the LB spot. Given the scarcity of elite options in this group and positional value (and the amount invested into Jordan Hicks), I think he’ll also be too cost prohibitive.

Like the edge class, there are plenty of options to mend the defensive line. Hargrave might argubaly be the most expensive with Chris Jones off the market, but I’ve been a fan since his days as a draft prospect - let me have a little bias just this once.

BRYAN BULAGA

I’d be remiss if I didn’t ‘fess up to being very vocal about my displeasure of Keim’s injury prone signings. But should they miss out on a big defensive upgrade, I think this is the next best bet. Bulaga is not without some durability concerns, but he’s shown the grit to play though it and when healthy, is arguably the best right tackle in the league and one of best pass protectors at his position.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Joe Thuney: I know, I know. The guard play was probably the strongest out of the offensive line, and the logistics of it are a little wonky. But it’s not often, if ever, that you see an elite offensive line talent hit free agency in their prime without injury concerns. It’s not going to happen, but I’d be just fine if it did.


What do you think? Would you like to see one of these free agents make their way to Glendale, or does another player catch your eye?

Poll

The Arizona Cardinals should sign:

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Javon Hargrave
    (125 votes)
  • 29%
    Arik Armstead
    (96 votes)
  • 13%
    Bryan Bulaga
    (43 votes)
  • 8%
    Joe Thuney
    (26 votes)
  • 10%
    Other (Sound off in the comments!)
    (33 votes)
323 votes total Vote Now