Let’s face it, the Arizona Cardinals roster has a lot of holes. We’re coming off a 4-13 season where we finished 0-6 in the NFC West. By simple yardage/points rankings, the Cardinals were #19 in offensive yards, #24 in points, #25 in yards against, and #31 in points against. Yuck. GM Monti Ossenfort has his work cut out for him this offseason.
It’s clear that this won’t be a one-offseason job. He needs to rebuild both trenches, add skill position talent on offense, bolster the linebackers and pass rush, and rebuild the entire CB room. Man, that defense especially needs a lot of work.
But that got me thinking… what if Ossenfort, somewhat counterintuitively, decided to focus on the offense this offseason? That side of the ball is a lot closer to being a finished product than the defense. So maybe he decides to plug the holes there first before turning his attention to the defense next offseason. He wouldn’t entirely ignore the defense, of course, but it would be interesting to see what the offense could look like if he invested more draft/free agency capital on offense this offseason.
Should be a fun exercise. To start, let’s take a look at the current offense and see what holes need to be filled.
Current Starting Offense
QB: Kyler Murray
RB: James Conner
WR2: Michael Wilson
TE: Trey McBride
D.J. Humphries (IR)
Trystan Colon*/Elijah Wilkinson*
C: Hjalte Froholdt
RG: Will Hernandez
RT: Paris Johnson Jr.
* free agent
For this exercise, I’m going to assume that we don’t bring back Hollywood Brown and upgrade from Moore at WR2/3. Whether or not we bring back Colon or Wilkinson, I’m going to assume we’ll upgrade at LG. And Hump will likely miss most of next season (if he isn’t a cap casualty), so we’ll need another OT as well, which might open up LT for PJJ. So Ossenfort would need to add a WR1, WR2/3, LG, and OT. No big deal, right? Let’s see what his options might be.
I know free agency comes before the draft, but the draft—and one player in particular—is the lynchpin of this strategy. The majority of mock drafts have the Cardinals landing Marvin Harrison Jr. at #4, so let’s start there with Ossenfort landing his WR1 in April’s draft.
But what about after that? The Cardinals have six picks in the first three rounds, including #27 and #35 in addition to #4. This is a deep class at tackle, so the Cardinals could conceivably land a bookend across from PJJ at #27 (or by trading up a handful of spots). There are also some solid second-tier options in Round 2. But there are also a TON of interesting receivers in this class. What if Ossenfort double-dipped at WR and came away with his WR3 as well?
I played around with the PFF Mock Draft Simulator and came up with a few interesting two-round mocks focusing just on tackle/receiver:
In various scenarios, the Cardinals were able to land Jordan Morgan, JC Latham, and Amarius Miles with their second 1st-rounder, then guys like Ladd McConkey, Devontez Walker, and Keon Coleman in the early 2nd. If guys like Adonai Mitchell or Xavier Legette are more your speed, they were available as well. No one knows who will actually be available at those slots, but this should be a good general idea.
Oh, and if MHJ winds up unfortunately NOT being available at #4, we could conceivably pivot to Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze for our WR1. I know many Cardinals fans (myself included) have their hearts set on MHJ, but Nabers and Odunze are both elite prospects as well.
In this scenario, there’s just one hold left to plug: guard. Sure, Ossenfort could address guard later in the draft, but he could also make a big splash with one of the following (all contract figures per Spotrac):
- Robert Hunt (MIA): 4 yrs/$48M
- Ezra Cleveland (JAC): 4 yrs/$54M
- Kevin Dotson (LAR): 4 yrs/$66M
With the Dolphins and Rams not in the best shape, salary cap–wise, Hunt or Dotson could very well hit the open market. Any of these guys would be a nice get for Ossenfort and would help fortify an offensive line with PJJ, Rookie X, Froholdt (a pleasant surprise this season), and the stalwart Hernandez.
For fun, let’s also take a look at some of the tackles and WR2/3 types that might fit for the Cardinals if Ossenfort doesn’t address those positions early on draft day. Let’s start with the tackles:
- Jonah Williams (CIN): 4 yrs/$44M
- Mekhi Becton (NYJ): 3 yrs/$39M
- Mike Onwenu (NE) 4 yrs/$55M
It remains to be seen if any of these guys will actually hit the open market, but it’s interesting to note that the market value for the tackles is projected lower than the guards (and note that all of these guys are still pretty young). Maybe Ossenfort snags one of these guys and uses #27 or #35 elsewhere?
Time for the wideouts. And remember, we’re not keeping Hollywood and drafting MJH (or Nabers or Odunze), so we’re looking more for WR2/3 types. Don’t expect to see the likes of Mike Evans, Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman, or Calvin Ridley here. Here’s who could fit:
- Curtis Samuel (WAS): 3 yrs/$35M
- Tyler Boyd (CIN): 3 yrs/$26M
- Darnell Mooney (CHI): 4 yrs/$42M
- Gabe Davis (BUF): 4 yrs/$55M
Is someone really going to spend $55M on Gabe Davis? Yikes. But Samuel and Boyd are both above-average slot types that would complement MHJ/Nabers/Odunze well, while Mooney might be a breakout candidate catching balls from a better passer than Josh Fields. Food for thought.
Possible 2024 Offense
So what could the offense look like next season if Ossenfort goes all-in on the offense this offseason? Here are a few possible lineups based on the mock drafts and free agents above. (New players are in italics.)
2024 Offense Scenarios
|Marvin Harrison Jr.
|Marvin Harrison Jr.
|Paris Johnson Jr.
|Paris Johnson Jr.
|Paris Johnson Jr.
The first two look like top-10ish offenses, don’t they? Even assuming rookie growing pains, those look like really solid units, easily the best talent around Kyler since the 2021 season. The third is something of a wildcard scenario where MJH is off the board but Ossenfort spent a bunch of money in free agency. Not particularly likely but it’s worth exploring different scenarios.
Of course, if Ossenfort were to pursue this route, there would be a lot of shootouts at State Farm Stadium as the defense would be pretty rough. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’d rather watch shootouts with a fun offense than mediocrity on both sides of the ball. That’s just me, though.
How about you, RotBers? Would you like to see Ossenfort focus more on the offense this offseason? Vote in the poll and then drop your projected 2024 offense in the comments.
What do you think about the idea of Ossenfort going all-in on offense this offseason?
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