Beachum, who is a clear left tackle, has typically been a starter ever year dating back to 2013.
He has served as the New York Jets left tackle over the past three years, starting 45 games in the process. He’s had his ups and downs as a player, but is well regarded by those that follow the team. For context, his 2019 Pro Football Focus grade of 67.1 is actually superior to that of Cardinal starter D.J. Humphries who netted a score of 64.5.
So my question is, with a shortage of starting caliber offensive linemen available, why would Beachum opt to sign with the suddenly tackle heavy Arizona Cardinals?
Remember, the Cardinals reupped left tackle D.J. Humphries to a three years, $45 million dollar deal this past February. Humphries himself has had serious durability issues in the past, but did manage to play all 16 games in 2019.
Both general manager Steve Keim and Cardinal head coach Kliff Kingsbury have been adamant regarding Humphries maturation over the course of the last 12-18 months. Furthermore, quarterback Kyler Murray has become exceptionally close with Humphries since his arrival last year.
With Humphries entrenched at left tackle, does Beachum become a contender to start opposite on the right side?
Not so fast.
Lets put aside the fact that Beachum himself has not started at right tackle since his rookie season in 2012. The Cardinals went out of their way to bring back the incumbent Marcus Gilbert last March to compete with 2020 starter Justin Murray.
Murray himself showed promise as the season progressed and is only entering his third NFL season.
Gilbert is said to be healthy and ready to challenge for a position he had shined at this time last year before going down in the preseason with a season ending injury.
Then there’s third round rookie OT Josh Jones, who was one of the biggest steals in the last April’s NFL Draft. Jones is likely behind his initial development plan, given everything that has gone on with restrictions due to the global pandemic.
Even so, the Cardinals drafted Jones to eventually become the heir apparent at right tackle, perhaps as soon as 2021. We haven’t even gotten a look at him live in pads however he has been staying busy with football this offseason.
Jones also offers the team positional flexibility and was seen by many as a potential swing tackle for this season.
Perhaps the Cardinals are hedging their bet with the addition of Beachum and the upcoming uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season. Quality depth, which is what Beachum provides on a surface level, is never a bad thing.
It also should be noted, at the writing of this article, that we do not know the details of Beachum’s contract with the Arizona Cardinals. If the contract is on the robust end, that would certainly signal an opportunity for Beachum to start at one of the two tackle positions.
I’d also argue that I’d personally rather see the team take advantage of the gluttony of pass rushers available on the free agent market.
Regardless, I question why the veteran opted to come to the desert where there isn’t a clear opening for him to start in 2020. Why not wait into training camp until there’s a potential injury and swoop in for more guarantees?
The obvious worst case scenario is that something has happened with starter D.J. Humphries, behind closed doors, that only the team is aware of at this time. While it remains unlikely, remember that this was the same staff that hid Marcus Gilbert’s season ending injury well into the season.
Fingers crossed that isn’t the case with Humphries. We will see.
So as we sit here on July 16th, with training camp on the horizon, the Arizona Cardinals suddenly have more offensive tackle depth then they’ve ever had entering a season.
For now, that is.