The NFL offseason is ramping up over the next few weeks, and one of the biggest questions for most teams is which impending free agent to use their franchise tag on to keep them from hitting the open market. Teams will use the tag as a bargaining ploy to give themselves more time (or just one more season) with players they are having trouble with at the negotiating table. For the Arizona Cardinals, that decision will be simple this off-season as they prepare to use their franchise tag on nobody.
That is both good news and bad news for Arizona. The good news is that of they only have a pair of impending free agents that are considered priorities this off-season in cornerback Greg Toler and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. Both players are expected to re-sign with the Cardinals for well-under deals that would approach the tag tender value for their respective positions ($10.668 million for Toler, $8.079 million for Stephens-Howling).
The bad news is that the Cardinals don’t have anyone on their roster that they consider valuable enough to use the franchise tag on (Larry Fitzgerald, locked into a long-term deal, notwithstanding). That is representative of the horrendous state of the roster and the incredible turnover that will likely have to be done in the desert by new head coach Bruce Arians.
But the change will be a good thing for Arizona. With a new leadership structure in place, the Cardinals can begin to rebuild their team through the draft, trades and free agency, addressing holes along the offensive line, depth in the back field and finding an NFL-caliber quarterback. Once those happen, Arizona will be back on the road to contending in the NFC West.
And maybe next year, they’ll have found someone worth franchising.