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Day 2 FA: Beach Day for Cardinals

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When the Cardinals’ OLC Sean Kugler indicated that 2020 3rd round pick T Josh Jones has the versatility to play guard, some of us were wondering whether that meant he wanted Kelvin Beachum to return in 2021. Indeed, that is the case, as the Cardinals re-signed Beachum to a 2 year deal.

After the move was announced, some fans took to twitter to speculate whether Kugler’s mention of Jones being able to play guard is an indication that starting LG Justin Pugh would be released in order to add a little over $7M to the team’s salary cap, to which I tweeted:

I believe that Justin Pugh is more likely to be extended than released.

I get that the Cardinals need added cap space to address their needs, but it makes no sense to release the best interior offensive lineman on the team.

No one has yet to see what Josh Jones looks like as an NFL guard. For those of you were plugging him in to start in Pugh’s place at LG, you realize that this would mean going head to head with Aaron Donald twice a year, right?

You might remember that a few weeks back I provided some research on how Justin Pugh graded versus Aaron Donald in comparison to how some other top guards, like Joe Thuney, graded versus Donald and Pugh’s was the highest grade I could find. He did not give up one sack this past year to Donald. Pugh only gave up one sack and 15 pressures all season. That’s less than 1 pressure a game. This, my friends, is dang plum good.

What’s great about the Kelvin Beachum signing is that it assures the Cardinals of valuable continuity, with D.J. Humphries at LT, Justin Pugh at LG, Justin Murray or Mason Cole at RG and Kelvin Beachum at RT.

The one question mark, as we all know is at the center position. While the Cardinals were outbid by the Chargers for the services of Corey Linsley, it’s likely that they will turn their attention to All Pro C Rodney Hudson who reportedly is being released by the Raiders.

ROTB’s Johnny Venerable gave some valuable context to Hudson’s release:

My initial thought was that Rodney Hudson would likely want to return to the Chiefs who have an opening at center. It kind of mystifies me as to why the Raiders aren’t trying to trade Hudson, for it would seem they could easily get some action on him. But, now it appears that he will be a free agent. What may give the Cardinals a chance is their ability to outbid the Chiefs and the thought that if Hudson wanted to keep his home in Las Vegas, it’s a short flight to Arizona.

If the Cardinals are unable to sign Rodney Hudson, I am still very much in favor of:

I would love to see Brett Jones duke it out for the starting center job with Lamont Gaillard, whom I believe has very good upside and the tremendous desire to succeed. Gaillard is a bulldog with smarts.

I am convinced at this point that it would be in the team’s and Mason Cole’s best interests to have him compete for the starting RG spot. Cole played well at guard in 2019 when called upon.

The fact that the Cardinals haven’t signed a free agent CB yet is making me very nervous. The CB position has always seemed to be a bit of a blind spot for Steve Keim. In his first 8 years at GM he’s always been of the belief that Patrick Peterson takes care of the position and that it’s ok to to get by with a revolving door of CB2s opposite Peterson.

Yesterday, I began to worry that Keim has been simply holding out to see if Patrick Peterson would accept the team’s offer for him to return. As some of us know, Keim has been using Peterson as a crutch for far too long. If Peterson were to stay on a reduced salary, in light of his struggles in 2020 during a contract year, what kind of a follow-up performance should the Cardinals expect? That’s a rhetorical question, right?

I think the best scenario for Peterson is this:

And the best scenario for the Cardinals is to recalibrate the CB position so that it no longer is a glaring liability versus runs and screens. The thought of Peterson being back at LCB, this year without the athletic, speedy Haason Reddick at SAM OLB to help out with contain and with MIKE LB Jordan Hick’s lack of range, would once again make the left perimeter of the Cardinals’ defense a 4 lane highway for QBs and RBs. A classic case where once again, only Budda Baker can make the TD saving tackle.

But, it gets a little harder for Budda to make TD saving tackles to the left side to that because Budda is the weak safety who typically shades toward Chandler Jones’ side so that Jones can feel free to display an array of pass rushing moves that may cause him to lose contain, but he feel free because he knows that Budda has his back.

What I appreciate about the Cardinals’ signings thus far is that all of them are ballers. Kelvin Beachum is a baller. Vallejo, Gardeck and Turner are ballers. Andy Lee is a baller and is one helluva passer, to boot (pun intended)!

This is why I am hoping to see the Cardinals re-sign Ss and ST aces Charles Washington and Chris Banjo. They ball. I am also thinking that DI Angelo Blackson is going to return to the defensive line rotation.