For the second straight year, the Arizona Cardinals have had one of the splashiest offseasons in the league. From Larry Fitzgerald coming back for another ride to handing D.J. Humphries a big-money extension to signing several new defensive starters via free agency to, oh yeah, the megatrade for DeAndre Hopkins, the team hasn’t lacked for newsworthy moments.
But there are a few veteran players who could be key contributors that have gotten lost in the shuffle. Andy Kwong highlighted one yesterday in his piece on Robert Alford. He’s one of the guys I had in mind, so let’s start with him.
Note: I’m focusing on veteran players, so I won’t be mentioning young guys like Andy Isabella and Zach Allen who are also flying under the radar a bit.
CB Robert Alford
I’m actually surprised Alford is still on the roster, to be honest. He hasn’t played in a regular season game since December 2018 and he’s scheduled to make $7.5M in 2020 and $9M in 2021. He was about as prime a cut candidate as anyone. But, for now, it looks like he’ll be back. (Although he could potentially be a post-6/1 release.)
If he comes back, as Andy pointed out, he could start outside opposite Patrick Peterson, allowing Byron Murphy to play in the slot. Alford has been a capable starter in the past, so if he could be even a league-average outside corner, it could have a domino effect and improve the entire secondary, which was overmatched for much of last season.
OLB Haason Reddick
With the signings of Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell, Reddick is the odd man out in the linebacking corps. He started 17 games and played at least 60% of the defensive snaps over the past two seasons, but he’ll enter training camp in 2020 without a clear role. The ILB experiment is likely over, so he’ll probably be fighting for playing time in sub packages as a pass rushing OLB. That doesn’t really jive with his production as a pro—only 7.5 sacks over his first three seasons—but remember he played DE in college and racked up 14.5 sacks over his final two seasons at Temple.
Reddick will seemingly be no more than a bit player in 2020, but maybe he can chip in 5-6 sacks as a part-timer? That would allow Vance Joseph to keep Chandler Jones fresh (he’s on the wrong side of 30 now) and let Reddick focus on something he does well instead of diagnosing blocking schemes and chasing tight ends.
RB Chase Edmonds
Let’s take a look at a couple players on the other side of the ball, starting with a guy who, for a brief, shining moment, was a fantasy star in 2019. From Weeks 5-7 last season, Edmonds racked up 228 yards rushing, 75 yards receiving, and 5 combined TDs. Elite numbers. Of course, then he got hurt, we traded for Kenyan Drake, and the rest is history.
But that doesn’t mean Edmonds himself is history. In spite of his phenomenal 8-game stretch with the Redbirds last season, Drake can’t be counted on to be a bellcow rusher (he’s literally never done it for a full season in college or the NFL), and the only other RB on the roster right now is D.J. Foster, who has 31 career touches and didn’t even record a rush last season. We’ll likely draft an RB later this month, but regardless, Edmonds should still be the top backup in 2020 and he’ll have a role on the offense. Maybe it’s just spelling Drake here and there, maybe Drake gets hurt, maybe Edmonds is the goal line back… there are a ton of paths to relevance for Edmonds this season. Cardinals fans—and fantasy players—shouldn’t sleep on the 3rd-year man this season.
OT Marcus Gilbert
That leaves us with the player who was somewhat puzzlingly resigned earlier this offseason. Gilbert was acquired for a Day 3 draft pick last year and was penciled in as the starter at RT. Good thing the team used a pencil, as Gilbert tore his ACL in practice and didn’t play a single regular season snap in 2019. Nevertheless, Steve Keim gave him a 1-year, $1M contract for 2020 to compete for the starting RT gig with Justin Murray and perhaps a 1st-round rookie.
But… what if we don’t draft Tristan Wirfs or Jedrick Wills or any of the prospects we’ve been linked to at #8? And what if Gilbert beats out Murray for the starting job? And—this is the biggest what if—what if Gilbert stays healthy? That’s a lot of what ifs, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and Gilbert does have 87 career starts to his name. He could be a more than serviceable starter again. Don’t hold your breath, but don’t discount the possibility either.
None of these players look primed to be a major contributor in 2020—and, heck, it’s easy to imagine scenarios where some of them don’t contribute or even play at all this season. But Alford, Reddick, Edmonds, and Gilbert all have something to prove and could greatly exceed their modest—or nonexistent—expectations. Don’t forget about these guys come September, Cardinals fans. (Assuming the season starts on schedule…)
What are your thoughts on these guys, RotB commenters? Are there any other “forgotten” players that deserve mention? Let us know in the comments.