The initial wave of free agent signings is over, and it was a quiet one for the Arizona Cardinals. The biggest transactions involving the Cardinals were players we lost: Zach Allen to the Broncos and Byron Murphy to the Vikings. Our biggest signing was LB Kyzir White. Nice player, but not exactly a needle-mover.
Coming off a 4-13 season and with very few roster additions thus far, it’s clear this roster still has many holes. Hell, if you wanted to be snarky, you could argue that the entire roster is a roster hole. New GM Monti Ossenfort clearly has his work cut out for him.
So which position groups are in the most need or reinforcements? Here’s my top 5.
This might be a surprising position to see on this list, but with the uncertainty surrounding Kyler Murray’s recovery from a torn ACL and Colt McCoy’s own injury issues, seemingly the only healthy QB on the roster heading into the season is David Blough. That’s… not an ideal QB situation, whether it’s for only a game or two or even longer.
Our top target was rumored to be Jacoby Brissett, but that failed to materialize for whatever reason, and he signed with the Commanders. The least unappetizing options of the guys currently available are Teddy Bridgewater and Mason Rudolph. Perhaps bring one of those guys in on a 1-year, incentive-laden deal? Spending a mid-to-late pick on a developmental QB wouldn’t be the worst idea, either.
4) Wide Receiver
I’m including WR on the assumption that DeAndre Hopkins gets traded before the draft. If Hop were to be moved, our WR1 would be Hollywood Brown, with Rondale Moore in the WR2 role. Both guys are slightly miscast in those roles. Depth WRs include Greg Dortch and the recently signed Zach Pascal. This group isn’t a complete black hole but it’s also a clear weakness, especially without Kyler under center.
None of the available free agents screams “Sign this guy!” but names like Jalen Guyton and Olamide Zaccheaus are both young and semi-intriguing potential WR3/4 types. Regardless of whether we sign anyone else, expect Ossenfort to use a Day 2 pick on a wideout—perhaps with an extra selection picked up in a Hopkins deal or a move back from #3?
3) Defensive Line
Our current D-line depth chart is rather unimposing. At DT, we have 2020 draftmates Rashard Lawrence and Leki Fotu (neither of whom has really distinguished themselves as pros), plus Titans import Kevin Strong. At DE, we have 2nd-year players Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas, plus semi-JAGs like Jonathan Ledbetter and L.J. Collier. If you squint, you can see the beginnings of a D-line rotation, but this unit will greatly struggle without reinforcements. Especially since we’re switching to a 4-3 after so many years in a 3-4.
There are actually a ton of quality D-linemen available right now, but many of them will be pricy and likely unwilling to come to a rebuilding franchise. And how much sense would it make for us to sign a big-name free agent right now anyway? I don’t think Monti will be dipping back in to the FA pool here. The draft is another story, however. Everyone is hoping we’ll be able to snag Will Anderson, but spending multiple later picks on the D-line is a near certainty as well (especially DT).
2) Interior Offensive Line
The interior O-line was basically a turnstile for the Cardinals last season—both in how they treated opposing defenders and how many players logged snaps. Something like 10 different players made a start or played significant snaps in multiple games at the guard and center positions for the Cardinals last season. The good news is most of them are gone, including well-known names like Justin Pugh and Rodney Hudson, as well as JAGs like Max Garcia, Billy Price, and Sean Harlow. The bad news is that we haven’t done much to replace them—and we need to start someone at each position. We did resign Will Hernandez, but the other names near the top of the depth chart are the uninspiring Rashaad Coward and something called a “Hjalte Froholdt.”
Obviously, Ossenfort isn’t done assembling his O-line. There are some interesting names available, but most of them are tackles, and most of the available interior linemen are older. (Part of the reason why they’re still available, obviously.) Again: many of them won’t want to join up for a rebuild, and it doesn’t make much sense for us to spend money on expensive veterans right now. Still, I’d expect Ossenfort to make at least one more FA signing along with spending multiple picks here—hopefully a plug-and-play type on Day 2/early Day 3. (This is why we need those extra picks!)
If you want to put O-line or D-line at #1, I wouldn’t argue much. “You gotta build from the trenches out” and other football axioms, yadda yadda yadda. I get it. But have you seen our CB room right now? Not only did we let Byron Murphy walk when he could have been retained for a very affordable 2 years/$17.5M, but we’ve done nothing to replace him. Our top two CBs are the perpetually raw (yet talented) Marco Wilson and JAG All-Star Antonio Hamilton. I like both of these players, but like WR, these two are out of their depth as the top two options. We also have no nickel CB to speak of.
The free agent well is far from dry. Unlike O-line/D-line, where I think we can cobble together the needed depth for a year with minor additions, I think we need to bring in at least one name veteran FA at corner on a 1-year deal, someone to give this unit some credibility and leadership. Or we could try throwing a little bit of money at someone like Rock Ya-Sin, who’s still young enough that he could be a signing for the future as well. And, obviously, expect Ossenfort to address this position in the draft at some point. (Just not in Round 1, I hope. You gotta build the trenches first!)
What about the other position groups? I think we’re set for 2023 at offensive tackle, tight end, linebacker, and safety. I’m not in love with our running back group and expect we’ll make a minor addition, but I’m a “RB is fungible” guy. Oh, special teams? Prater is back, which I’m fine with, and I guess we need a punter. There.
What about you, Cardinals fans? What holes do you see when you look at this Swiss cheese roster? Vote in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments like always.
What do you see as the biggest remaining roster hole for the Cardinals?
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