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Realistic Free Agent Targets for the Cardinals

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Improving the pass rush, bolstering the front seven

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Arizona Cardinals Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Much like the last offseason, the Arizona Cardinals finished last in the NFC West but have a enough cap space to make a few acquisitions in free agency.

According to overthecap.com, they are projected to have around $39.7 million in cap space after re-signing D.J. Humphries to a three-year contract. The Cardinals will need to set aside around $10 million to sign their rookies, leaving just about $30 million for them to use.

General manager Steve Keim had some success in free agency last year with Jordan Hicks, J.R. Sweezy, and Maxx Williams being his best finds. He also had some hiccups on the way as well with the releases of Darius Philon (arrest) and Terrell Suggs.

The Cardinals biggest needs are on defense which include defensive tackle, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker.

With free agency set to begin on March 18th, here is my prediction as to who I think the Cardinals will be interested in and who I believe they should target:

NFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Trevathan - Linebacker, Chicago Bears

One of the Cardinals biggest offseason priorities is to find an inside linebacker to pair up with Jordan Hicks, with Haason Reddick moved to the outside and Joe Walker an impending free agent. Trevathan was a leader on the Bears’ defense and could very well be the guy they need. He is a linebacker that would bring plenty of experience to the front seven with 609 tackles, eight interceptions, and 35 pass deflections in his nine years in the NFL. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is a player that understands coverage assignments and played in a 3-4 defensive scheme for most of his career.

Others: Nigel Bradham (PHI), Nick Kwiatkoski (CHI), Cory Littleton (LAR)

Denver Broncos vs. Los Angeles Chargers, NFL Week 16 Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Will Parks - Safety, Denver Broncos

Teams nowadays often use multiple safety looks in their defensive backfield, which includes an extra safety outside of the base free and strong positions. The Cardinals already have two starters in place with Pro Bowler Budda Baker and last year’s supplemental pick Jalen Thompson. The third safety could be Will Parks, who was at his best when he played for Vance Joseph in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The 25-year-old played both safety positions, cornerback, and dime linebacker in his time in the NFL and at the University of Arizona.

Others: Chris Banjo (ARZ), Damarious Randall (CLE), Dymonte Thomas (DEN)

NFL: NOV 25 49ers at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jason Pierre-Paul - EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pass rushers are the most sought-after position in free agency almost every year. Other than Chandler Jones, no one on the Cardinals’ roster last season was any good in the pass rush department. They would immediately upgrade their defense and take some pressure off of Jones by signing Jason Pierre-Paul, who is coming off an 8.5 sack season through only 10 games. He is 31 years old, but that makes him only a year older than Jones. Steve Keim was interested in signing him in 2016 but opted to re-sign with the Giants.

Markus Golden should be drawing a lot of interest from the Cardinals as well, considering he played for them from 2015-18.

Others: Kyler Fackrell (GB), Markus Golden (NYG)

Other Positional Targets

The offensive line could use some bolstering. OT Jared Veldheer was coached by Sean Kugler in 2018 and OT Le’Raven Clark played for Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech. Although the Cardinals reportedly have interest in DE Derek Wolfe, he struggled in his two years with Vance Joseph back in 2017-18. Shelby Harris is another former Bronco who will likely be targeted but has been inconsistent in his career. An intriguing player to scout is the Bears’ 6-foot-7 DE Roy Robertson-Harris (RFA). Defensive end Chris Jones will be a tough player to acquire, since there is no clarity if he is even on the Chiefs’ trade block. It would make more sense to address their defensive line need through the draft.

Re-signing our own

The only players that we know will be brought back are kicker Zane Gonzalez (RFA) and offensive tackle Justin Murray (ERFA).

Kenyan Drake and the Cardinals have mutual interest but he is already garnering a lot of interest from other NFL teams. Until they figure out what to do with David Johnson, Drake will remain an impending free agent. No matter what happens, the team will likely add another running back to the roster.

Here are the players I expect the team to re-sign:

DT Rodney Gunter, DT/NT Zach Kerr, ILB Joe Walker, K Zane Gonzalez (RFA), OT Justin Murray (ERFA)

Here are the remaining free agents:

QB Brett Hundley, RB Kenyan Drake, RB D.J. Foster, WR Damiere Byrd, WR Pharoh Cooper, OG Max Garcia, OT Marcus Gilbert, OT Jordan Mills, C A.Q. Shipley, TE Charles Clay, DT Jonathan Bullard, DT Clinton McDonald, DT Caraun Reid, OLB Cassius Marsh, OLB Brooks Reed, CB Kevin Peterson (RFA), CB Brandon Williams, S Chris Banjo, S Josh Shaw, S Charles Washington (RFA)