32. TE JONNU SMITH
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals — four years, $38 million ($20.5 million guaranteed)
With or without Larry Fitzgerald in 2021, Kyler Murray needs more receiving threats to go along with DeAndre Hopkins — especially at tight end, as the Cardinals didn’t really get consistent production out of that group in 2020. Smith’s ability to extend plays after the catch would surely help. The four-year Titan is likely to hit the open market with Tennessee lacking cap space and looking at other marquee players in need of new contracts. Over the last two years, Smith ranks sixth in receiving grade, third in yards after the catch per reception (6.8) and sixth in broken tackles (17).
Mitch: Not gonna happen. TE is not a priority this off-season, with limited UFA budget.
- Cards UFA signing at TE: Dan Arnold.
- Cards 2021 NFL Draft TE possibilities: Day 1: Kyle Pitts (FLA); Day 2: Pat Freiermuth (PSU), Brevin Jordan (MIA), Hunter Long (BC)
47. DI SHELBY HARRIS
Prediction: Arizona Cardinals — three years, $33.38 million ($16.5 million guaranteed)
Arizona’s interior defensive line ranked second-to-last in PFF grade in 2020, proving to be a non-factor both against the run and when rushing the quarterback. There’s a clear need at the position, and Harris would certainly help patch that.
Harris didn’t emerge in the NFL ranks until his fourth NFL season — and first with Denver — back in 2017. He has logged at least 390 snaps in each of his four years with the Broncos, providing uber-productive play when on the field. As a matter of fact, he is tied for 10th among interior defensive linemen over that span in PFF grade.
Harris is more than capable of playing 0- or 3-technique along Arizona’s defensive front. He primarily played defensive tackle in Denver (84.8 PFF grade at that alignment) but found immense success at nose, where he earned an elite 91.3 PFF grade across 313 such snaps.
Mitch: Not gonna happen. Cards paid $10M per year for Jordan Phillips last year and intend to have him validate the investment this year. Zach Allen emerged as best 34DE playmaker the second half of the season. Plus, Cards drafted Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence and they expect Michael Dogbe to make a rotation push.
- Cards UFA signing at DI: Angelo Blackson, Domata Peko
- Cards 2021 NFL Draft DI possibilities: Day 1: Christian Barmore (ALA); Day 2: Marvin Wilson (FSU), Daviyon Nixon (IOWA), Carlos Basham (WF), Alim McNeill (NCST)
ARI Patrick Peterson 30, CB 2 yrs, $25M
He’ll be 31 this season, but has been both reliable and consistent in 10 seasons. He should carry a $12M per year floor, even if contenders like the Chiefs get involved for his services.
BEST GUESS: Denver
Mitch: PP. will sign elsewhere, but it would be surprising if he gets more than $9-10M a year. A contract high in incentives with playoff bonuses would seem most likely, so that it can appear more lucrative.
- Cards UFA signings at CB: Ronald Darby (WAS) and either Sidney Jones (JAC) or Michael Davis (LAC)
- Cards 2021 NFL Draft CB possibilities: Day 1: Caleb Farley (VT), Patrick Surtain II (ALA), Jaycee Horn (SC); Day 2: Asante Samuel (FSU), Elijah Molden (WAS), Paulson Adebo (STAN), Eric Stokes (GA), Aaron Robinson (UCF), Tay Gowan (UCF)
ARI Kenyan Drake 27, RB, 2 yrs, $10M
Drake had a chance to grab hold of the #1 role in ARZ on a transition tag in 2020, but failed to do so. He’s a good addition to a multi-RB situation, but not at top dollar.
BEST GUESS: NY Jets
Mitch: Would be surprised to see KD garner $5M a year as it is still unclear whether he can be a lead RB.
- Cards UFA signing at RB: DeAndre Washington (MIA) as depth with intention to draft a RB.
- Cards 2021 NFL Draft RB possibilities: Day 1: Najee Harris (ALA), Travis Etienne (CLEM); Day 2: Javonte Williams (UNC), Chuba Hubbard (OKST), Kenneth Gainwell (MEM)
ARI Haason Reddick 26, OLB, 3 yrs, $30M
Reddick peaked at the right time per a move back to the edge, raising his value from nearly nothing - to what should be a nice payday. Shaq Lawson’s deal in Miami is a strong comp here.
BEST GUESS: Cincinnati
Mitch: Not gonna happen. The Cardinals would be outright foolish to let HR sign elsewhere. The Cards will re-sign him to an incentive laden 3-4 year deal with a base salary in the neighborhood of $12-13M.
- Cards UFA signing at OLB: Haason Reddick (ARI)
DEN Shelby Harris, 29, DT, 3 yrs, $30M
One of the better values in all of football last year, Harris’ ability to stuff the run is a skillset many teams will be in need of this March.
BEST GUESS: Arizona
IND T.Y. Hilton 31, WR, 2 yrs, $22M
The days of Hilton outpacing top corners in the league are behind him, but he’s still an excellent route runner who will find the endzone enough to warrant a payday. Teams like GB & Chicago will be in the mix, but TY’s numbers under a covered roof far outweigh his outdoor production.
BEST GUESS: Arizona
Mitch: Not gonna happen. Not at $11M per at Hilton’s age. I believe that new WR coach Shawn Jefferson will attract two of his former Jets.
Cards UFA signings at WR: Breshad Perriman (NYJ).
Cards trade: WR Christian Kirk to Jets for WR Jamison Crowder (extend his contract)
Cards 2021 NFL Draft WR possibilities: Day 1: Jaylen Waddle (ALA), DeVonta Smith (ALA), Rondale Moore (PUR), Kadarius Toney (FLA), Rashid Bateman (MIN); Day 2: Terrace Marshall (LSU), Seth Williams (AUB), Tylan Wallace (OKST), Tutu Atwell (LOU), Dyami Brown (UNC), Amari Rogers (CLEM)
WAS Ronald Darby 27, CB, 4 yrs, $36M
Darby did enough on his latest 1 year prove-it deal to warrant a multi-year contract this spring. There’s no reason Washington shouldn’t look to extend him, but if he hits the market there should be multiple suitors this time around.
BEST GUESS: Arizona
Mitch: Make it happen. Darby’s age, talent and contract ($9M a year), match up.
Sportrac Projections the Cardinals Could Win and Outbid:
GB Corey Linsley, 29, C, 2 years, $20M
After a postseason that saw bad center play take teams out, Linsley’s dependability can’t be overstated. He’ll need a raise to come back, but Green Bay should be looking to keep their MVP QB as happy as possible with moves like this.
BEST GUESS: Green Bay
Mitch: This interior mauler-baller could galvanize the Cardinals’ offensive line and make it potentially one of the best in NFL. Offer him 3 years at $33M.
KC Austin Reiter, 29, C, 3 yrs, $24M
An extremely reliable, consistent option especially in the passing game, and a good fit for a Mahomes-run offense. His value on the open market vs. what he might have to accept to stay in KC could be two very different numbers.
BEST GUESS: Kansas City
Mitch: if not Corey Linsley, then Austin Reiter would be another excellent option.
NE David Andrews, 28, C, 3 yrs, $20M
Andrews is on the right side of 30, and can be classifed as one of the most dependable centers in the league right now. His days in New England may be numbered as his price tag increases, but there will be suitors.
BEST GUESS: Baltimore
Mitch: Andrews is another excellent option at C.
LV Nelson Agholor, 27, WR, 2 yrs, $16M
Agholor took a “prove-it” deal with Las Vegas and really found his legs by the end of 2020. No reason to believe this marriage shouldn’t continue.
BEST GUESS: Las Vegas
Mitch: if the Cards can’t acquire Jamison Crowder, then they should offer Nelson Agholor a 3 year, $25M deal in order to add one of the best slot WRs in the NFL.
TB Lavonte David. 31, LB, 3 yrs, $39M
David has done enough to warrant a raise that puts him inline with the highest paid minimal-rush OLBs in the league. Of all the notable free agents TB holds, paying David the right price makes the most sense.
BEST GUESS: Tampa Bay
Mitch: Imagine what Lavonte David could do for the Cardinals’ defense in tandem with Isaiah Simmons at 34 ILB. It’s unclear at this point whether the Bucs will be able to afford David’s contract.
TEN Jayon Brown, LB, 25, 4 yrs, $44M
He’s most valuable in coverage than anywhere else right now, but there’s still plenty of need for a player like Brown in any defense. Tennessee likely gives him the second contract to see what else they can get from him at just 25.
BEST GUESS: Tennessee
Mitch: if not Lavonte David, Jayon Brown is one of the better young, in-vogue speed LBs in the NFL. The Cardinals’ defense needs to keep adding speed and athleticism. Jayon Brown is more likely to garner $8-9M a year.
- Where do you agree and disagree with my assessments?
- What other UFAs catch your eye?