Arizona Cardinals in Free Agency
Andre Branch – OLB
Previous Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
Years Experienced: 5 Years,
6-5, 265 Pounds
The Cardinals will have one big target that will require a contract, and here is my guess for someone who has plenty of youth and talent to carry the pass-rush. His numbers were not very impressive this year, as he only posted 4 sacks, but he does possess tremendous length and size to attack with a speed or power rush. The Cardinals have lacked size at the point of attack, with Markus Golden being 6-2, 260 pounds, and seems to be a freakish athlete. If you match Andre Branch and Markus Golden opposite of each other, the Cardinals automatically become lethal at rushing the quarterback.
Branch will be a possible free agent that will be in a bidding war, the Cardinals are notorious to not get involved in such actions, and seem to try lure free agents with second chances. They are pretty cheap (with the exception of Jared Veldheer and Mike Iupati), the Cardinals typically try their luck at the penny-slots, and it’s been very successful. I love the unbelievable motor that Branch has, and with Jacksonville looking to invest some time trying to build up Dante Fowler and Chris Smith.
For those wondering where the market is for pass-rushers, there probably won’t be one this year, as many teams will probably refuse to let their centerpiece defenders walk. I feel like Branch (and Bruce Irvin) will escape for bigger money, so the Cardinals will end up either spending a pretty penny or drafting a linebacker. This seemed like a logical fit, with the 6-5 frame of Branch, the Cardinals get themselves a big guy with a large wingspan to engage and disengage blockers, he could eventually become a double digit sack guy with the players around the Cardinals organization. He makes a lot of hustle plays in the backfield, and has a great understanding of how rush, but because he hasn’t played any linebacker since joining the league, Branch will have an adjustment period.
Estimated contract: 3 Year, $20 million ($8 million guaranteed)