As of May 2nd, with the 2021 NFL Draft now complete, Cardinal GM Steve Keim can objectively assess where his roster sits.
After a three day event in which the Cardinals essentially drafted for need, it is clear there is still much work to be done.
Arizona had a solid showing over the weekend, securing a couple big name prospects (Zaven Collins, Rondale Moore), as well as some quality developmental players (Marco Wilson, Tay Gowan).
Even so, there are still several glaring holes remaining on a Cardinal team that aspires to reach the post season for the first time since 2015.
While it was not expected to be a position the team would address early, one could argue that tight end remains Arizona’s biggest roster weakness. After allowing former starter Dan Arnold to leave as a free agent (Carolina), the Cardinals are left with a group that consists of predominantly blocking TE Maxx Williams and special teams standout Darrell Daniels.
While Florida’s Kyle Pitts was never a realistic option for the redbirds, Arizona did pass up the opportunity to land Penn State stand out Pat Freiermuth in the second round (opting instead for WR Rondale Moore).
Free agent options, as you can imagine, remain relatively thin at the position. That is unless you fancy yourself a fan of, say, Trey Burton or Tyler Eifert.
After sacrificing a 4th round pick in 2022 to trade up for Florida CB Marco Wilson (a move I applauded), I don’t see Keim delegating additional future picks for players at this time. Especially when you consider that he’s used a Day 3 pick each of the last two years at the mid season trading deadline (Kenyan Drake, Markus Golden).
Speculation surrounding Philadelphia TE Zach Ertz remains consistent with Cardinal fans, however the Eagles asking price remains high. Unless the teams could come to an agreement that would largely include ONLY players, I don’t see Arizona as a fit.
An argument can be made that Keim misjudged the tight end market from the start and is already paying for it. The Cardinals have a healthy amount of cap space remaining, yet no respectable pass catching TE is signed to the roster.
Then there’s the need for yet another outside corner to pair with Malcom Butler. Unlike the TE position, however, this hole could be filled in a multitude of ways. The free agent defensive back market remains robust and includes the likes to Steven Nelson, Richard Sherman, and Bashaud Breeland.
Lets also not forget that Keim managed to secure starter Dre Kirkpatrick, who remains unsigned, last August.
Even with two corners drafted over the weekend, expect Keim to secure another capable vet to what could be the most improved unit on the team.
The Cardinals currently sit at just over $14 million dollars in cap space, however some of those funds will need to be allocated to their incoming rookie class. Speculation remains abound that the team may move on from one of the following players (or more) in search of additional cap relief:
LB Jordan Hicks: $2,941,176 (post June 1)
OLB Devon Kennard: $6,632,353 (post June 1)
WR Andy Isabella: $915,898 (post June 1)
Following their late season collapse in 2020, there is no denying that the Cardinals have made significant strides to improve this offseason. The team is leaps and bounds more talented up the middle on both sides of the ball (Rodney Hudson, J.J. Watt, Zaven Collins) while the pass rush should be historically great.
Kyler Murray is entering year three and players like A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Chase Edmonds and James Conner should all be motivated to produce on one year deals.
Yet in the daunting NFC West, no team can afford to take their foot off the gas. Keim and company know they have additional work to do if they hope to return to the post season in 2021.