The biggest question for Arizona Cardinals’ fans and the organization heading into free agency, which essentially begins today with the “legal” tampering period, is whether MOJO (MO-nti Ossenfort and JO-nathan Gannon) are going to adopt the Cardinals’ most recent “small ball” modus operandi when it comes to free agency? Or—- are they going to try to take some hefty swings for the fences?
Right off the bat (thus extending the metaphor!), let’s gauge the temperature in the room:
What Will MOJO’s UFA M.O. be?
Maybe one splash signing but that’s it
Free swinging (and spending) for home runs
Like last year, make 2024 comp picks a priority
Interesting fact: neither the Titans (MO) nor the Eagles (JO) are receiving any compensatory picks this year.
In 2022, the Titans were awarded 2 comp picks (4th and 6th rounders), while the Eagles, once again, had zero. 2022 marked the first time in a long time that the New England Patriots were not awarded a single compensatory pick, because of their rare free agent shopping spree in 2021 which yielded them the likes of Matthew Judon and Hunter Henry.
The reason why these numbers of comp picks is particularly relevant, is that MO was raised by an organization that prides itself in being able to acquire as many draft picks as possible so that they can be very flexible in trading up and down on draft days.
During MO’s three years with the Titans, they were awarded three comp picks, which would not suggest that, as an organization, they made acquiring comp picks an off-season priority.
And while the Eagles love to make splash trades and signings in free agency, they use trades to acquire draft picks so as to give them tremendous draft day flexibility.
This is why, an educated guess would be that MOJO will want to trade down to acquire as many draft picks as possible and so as to give them draft day flexibility, because, this is a very common priority of the Patriots’ and Eagles’ off-season roster building practices.
- Chiefs: 5 starters on offense; 9 starters on defense —- 14/22
- Eagles: 10 starters on offense; 4 starters on defense —- 14/22
- 2023 Cardinals (per current roster): 4 starters on offense: 9 starters on defense
ARI Assistant GM Dave Sears’ Home Grown Offensive Line for the Lions:
- LT Taylor Decker (R1/2016)
- LG Jonah Jackson (R3/2020)
- C Frank Ragnow (R1/2018)
- RG Logan Stenberg (R4/2020) backup to Halapoulivaati Vaitai, UFA/PHI
- RT Penei Sewell (R1/2021)
Is it purely coincidence that the Lions have started to win and that Jared Goff is now a Pro Bowl QB?
Man, imagine if Dave Sears has this kind of a influence in the Cardinals’ rebuilding of the offensive line.
Facts: Of the 13 offensive linemen Steve Keim drafted from 2013-2022, only 1 (D.J. Humphries —- R1 2015 —- 83 career starts) has started more than 32 games (Mason Cole —- R3 2018 —- started 32 games for Cardinals over three seasons). In third place was Earl Watford (R4 —- 2013 —-21 starts over 4 seasons). In fourth place was Jonathan Cooper (R1 2013—-who started 11 games over three seasons).
Zach Allen and Byron Murphy
Do you think MOJO will re-sign Zach Allen?
Do you think MOJO will re-sign Byron Murphy?
Last off-season, Michael Bidwill appeared to draw the cutoff line for UFA’s at $10M a year. If MOJO are of a similar mindset, then chances are, in light of the recent contract projections for Zach Allen ($14M per annum) and Byron Murphy ($16M per annum), then it would seem unlikely that the Cardinals will re-sign either one of them —- perhaps the prevailing thinking could be to collect two high 2024 comp picks?
Guesses on Allen and Murphy:
- Allen signs with HOU (joining the Texans’ new DC, Matt Burke)
- Murphy signs with JAX (they loved how Christian Kirk played against them two years ago —- well, Byron Murphy played superbly in that game as well, pulling off a nifty jump of an out route and returning it for a swift TD).
Most Recent Wish List:
My UFA : QB Jacoby Brissett; G Ben Powers; C Garrett Bradbury; G Will Hernandez; RB Alexander Mattison; WR DJ Chark; DE Zach Allen; DT Dalvin Tomlinson; NT Greg Gaines; DE Demarcus Walker; LB Kyzir White; CB Rock Ya-Sin; CB Isaiah Oliver; S Duron Harmon; K Matt McCrane.— Walter B J Mitchell (@WBJMItch) March 12, 2023
QB Brissett —- love the fit with Drew Petzing and believe he could be as effective as Gino Smith.
G Powers —- Kyler and Hollywood should be recruiting him heavily.
C Bradbury —- liked him a lot coming into the draft and has come into his own as a pass protector and run blocker —- i think of all the UFA centers, he has the most natural talent.
G Hernandez —- loved the exchange he had with JG and feel like his best, most dominant football is ahead of him.
RB Mattison —- I think he has RB1 type traits, but was behind Dalvin Cook every year.
WR Chark —- has the length and deep speed to be a star in our offense.
DE Allen —- is versatile and makes a handful of significant plays a game.
DT Tomlinson —- stood out when the Cardinals played in MIN this past season impressive mix of run stuffing and pass rushing ability.’
NT Gaines —- he packs a punch and has some serious lateral quicks. Do you remember the time he chased down a scrambling Kyler in lateral pursuit?
DE Walker —- had a good, strong year in TEN last year and would be a nice 4-3 DE fit.
LB White —- as a converted free agent safety, he thrived at WOLB in JG’s defense, amassing over 100 tackles and holding up reasonably well in pass coverage.
CB Ya-Sin —- I think he’s as good a boundary cover CB as there is in this UFA class.
CB Oliver —- is merging as a very good slot CB, maybe the best in the UFA class.
S Harmon —- we need a deep safety who can make plays and interceptions over the top and Harmon is still one of the best.
K McCrane —- 10/10 FG/XPT (long of 53) as a member of the Cardinals (pre-season and regular season combined) was 8/8 FGs (long of 53) in the chilly, windy Meadowlands for the New York Admirals in XFL a couple years ago and is currently 7/8 (with a long of 47) for the DC Defenders.
My hope is for the Cardinals to sign half of these players (or players of equal value). If I had to prioritize 5 of them due to positional needs, they would be:
- C Garrett Bradbury
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson
- G Ben Powers
- CB isaiah Oliver
- NT Greg Gaines
Which UFAs are your Top 5 Priorities?
If MOJO takes a conservative approach to free agency, how would you feel?
Your emotions and thoughts?