The facilities are empty, veterans are spread through the country, enjoying their calm offseason while they can. In the next couple of months, a grind will begin for many of the football teams, but it’s the Arizona Cardinals time to focus on the now.
While I’m writing this, I want fans (and maybe some Cardinals officials) to let this sink in: 49-15. That’s not just a number. That’s a reminder, something that will stay on my mind for the rest of my life. To allow a team, any team for that matter, to score 49-15, to be denied a Super Bowl nod, I refuse to let myself forget.
Sure, every team in the NFL is 0-0 right now, that’s all good in the grand scheme of things, but for every team, you either go up or you go down. To elevate your game. The Arizona Cardinals win a Super Bowl, they finally beat a curse that’s been over the franchise for decades. Or, they sink into oblivion of the “what if’s”. “What could have been?”
Now is pretty important when you’re a football team, as this is the time to either elevate your game, or slip. Carson Palmer doesn’t have 5 years to win a Super Bowl, he is 37 in December, so he needs to win now or the opportunity may slip away.
It’s so rare to be able to actually improve an NFC powerhouse. You get better on offense and defense, while maintaining the key pieces. Next year will be the biggest slashing the Cardinals could see in any season. Imagine this: Carson and Larry Fitzgerald (33 in August) could retire next offseason.
Michael Floyd, Tyrann Mathieu, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Tony Jefferson, Chris Johnson, Jermaine Gresham, Evan Mathis, Frostee Rucker, Kevin Minter, Andre Ellington, Jaron Brown, D.J. Swearinger are free agents when the new year starts for the 2017-2018 season. There is big money to be thrown at free agents for the bottom feeding teams.
The future is scary for the Cardinals, the Cardinals are going to be gutted in the next offseason, and there are only so many options you can do.
You could start Drew Stanton or whoever wins the quarterback competition for 3rd string when Carson Palmer retires. Larry Fitzgerald could be replaced by Michael Floyd, should he resign, or John Brown takes over. Shoot, even the draft feels like a promising proposition. Free agency is dim next year for quarterbacks.
It’s going to be very difficult to keep the core together. Sad. Even if Larry and Carson decide to return next season, Carson will be 37, turning 38 in late December, and Larry will be 34. The Cardinals have the right combination of veterans and youth, they need to win now.
Think about Bruce Arians, he’s an elder statesman too. BA will be 64 this season, he already hinted at retirement in the near future. Would it really be a surprise to see Larry, Carson, and Arians all go out at the same time? A Super Bowl at least clarifies their legacies.
You don’t know what could happen between now and in the next season. To train harder, to push this team over the hump, the Cardinals need every bit of this roster to fit. Now is going to determine whether the Cardinals have what it takes to be a winner.