While most NFL executives agree the Arizona Cardinals had a very good offseason, some were a bit surprised by the money they gave one of their big free agents.
Jordan Phillips had 9.5 sacks from the defensive line for the Buffalo Bills in 2019 and road that momentum into a three-year $30 million contract with the Cardinals.
One executive told Mike Sando in his review of the offseason in The Athletic, that he was surprised by the move:
“I like what Arizona did overall and if they can string together a good draft this year, they will really be on the upswing based on what they did last year,” an evaluator said. “But I do not see it with Phillips. Miami cut him because he wouldn’t play, then Buffalo picked him up and got a highly motivated player who played well, but I still see him as a two-down player who will revert to doing the minimum now that he is paid handsomely.”
It is a fair question to ask, but from people I trust the change in Phillips had to do more with the man than the money.
Phillips matured quite a bit, something Lorenzo Alexander told Arizona Sports after the Cardinals agreed to terms with Phillips, and a writer I know for the Bills admired how many started to lean on Phillips as a leader.
This was a guy who was cut by the Dolphins and a year later was one of the more important pieces on a very good Bills defense.
It is something the Cardinals have been missing, vocal guys who backup their words with their play. We are seeing that be a focus this offseason, as Phillips joins Devon Kennard and last offseasons key acquisition in Jordan Hicks as the leaders of a defense that didn’t have any in 2018.
Was it a gamble on Phillips? Probably. Is it one the Cardinals needed to make? Absolutely.