5 Free Agents Arizona Cardinals Should Target This Offseason
Free Agents the Arizona Cardinals Should Target This Offseason
The Arizona Cardinals had a solid year under first-year head coach Bruce Arians. They finished the year 10-6 and just missed out on making the playoffs. They played well in the second half of the season going 6-2, and if they were in the NFC East or North, they would have been crowned division champions. Instead, they find themselves sitting at home in January awaiting the 20th pick in the first round of the draft.
Arizona will have many difficult decisions facing them this offseason knowing that there is very little wiggle room within the division. On the verge of potentially seeing their division rivals Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers compete for a trip to the Super Bowl, the Cardinals are left with limited room for error. The Birds could be facing about $5 million in cap space, but that number could change depending on which options are picked up. However, if the wrong buttons are pushed, it could greatly impact the next few seasons in the desert.
Two of the key players that the Cardinals rely on both on the field and financially are quarterback Carson Palmer and franchise wideout Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer is set to make $10 million next year with Fitzgerald making $18 million. If Arizona can get Fitz to restructure a deal, it could go a long way into freeing up some cash. With Palmer, he did start off slow, but managed to still turn in over 4,000 passing yards and seemed to gel in Arians' system. Any quarterback change would only happen through the draft, so free agent dollars could be spent elsewhere. Palmer is expected back, and any new additions around him would be much welcomed.
The Cardinals have 16 unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents. While many fans may not consider kickers a part of the team, they are still needed. Both kicker Jay Feely and punter Dave Zastudil are current free agents. Both are likely to return next season, with more of an uncertainty around Feely. If there is a change at kicker, Phil Dawson and Lawrence Tynes will also be on the market. Based on the division they are in, here are five other targets for the Cardinals to consider this offseason.
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.
5. Jared Veldheer
The Cardinals gave up 41 sacks last season and will likely be looking to upgrade the O-line protection. Jared Veldheer is a left tackle who had an injury-shortened season. He would, however, fill a key need for Arizona and could be had at a decent price tag.
4. Toby Gerhart
Rashard Mendenhall will be entering free agency, and while he is a favorite of Arians, his numbers were not spectacular. Andre Ellington was the better back for the Cardinals and is the likely starter for next year. With Ellington as the speed back, Toby Gerhart would become the new bruiser and short-yardage back. He can also be a guy to block on third down and possibly help cut down on the sacks allowed.
3. Dexter McCluster
This would be a long shot, but Dexter McCluster is a player that could do some things for the Cardinals. Arizona runs an uptempo attack and Palmer involves many guys in the passing game. McCluster would be a nice slot receiver and a change-of-pace back, and also would create the most dangerous return game alongside Patrick Peterson. Getting as many skill guys out in space against the defenses in the NFC West is something Arizona should consider.
2. Garrett Graham
If Arizona hopes to compete within their division, they need to try and get as many playmakers on offense as possible. While Jimmy Graham is the top prize on offense, he will likely be demanding dollars that are out of range for Arizona. Garrett Graham saw good playing time in Houston and would be another target for Palmer. Graham had 49 catches for over 500 yards, and that output would have translated to third-best on Arizona's roster.
1. Karlos Dansby
Karlos Dansby is one of the best linebackers going right now. In his second stint with the Cardinals, he is a defensive leader with over 120 tackles the last two years. He is likely Arizona's top priority, but will cost a pretty penny. If they are unable to retain Dansby, plan B could be Brandon Spikes, who is a strong run-stopper. In a division with Colin Kaepernick and Marshawn Lynch, Spikes would be a valuable piece to have.