Arizona Cardinals current players already making a case to be retained in 2017
It’s true that the Arizona Cardinals are not even through half of their 2016 schedule yet. Probably way to early to start thinking about next year’s roster. But you can bet that the Cards’ front office has already begun their evaluations.
Their free agent list is long, but next off-season’s biggest priority is more than likely Chandler Jones. The outside linebacker has been a disruptive force against both the run and the pass. A big part of his value is the attention he warrants.
Teams need to make sure a player as talented as him is blocked, which creates opportunities for his teammates. One such player who appears to have benefited the most is fellow outside linebacker Markus Golden. Golden has already surpassed his sack total from last season.
Another free agent-to-be who Jones’ presence may have helped is defensive end Calais Campbell. After a slow start, the Cards’ mainstay has hit a groove. First-round pick Robert Nkemdiche was drafted to replace Campbell, but hasn’t showed anything to this point.
Since being acquired in early September, cornerback Marcus Cooper has filled a huge void in Arizona’s secondary. He has great size and length, and is only 26 years old. Good corners are very hard to come by, so strong efforts should be made to keep Cooper around.
Two Cardinal safeties are both having solid seasons and both are scheduled for unrestricted free agency. Tony Jefferson leads the club in tackles, and D.J.Swearinger has made plays all over the field. They may not have the salary cap space to bring both back, so they may have to choose between them.
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Guard Earl Watford has been excellent in relief of the injured Evan Mathis. His timing for stepping up his game couldn’t have been better. The Cards may be looking at him as a starter in the offseason given the fact that Mathis will probably retire.
Another player stepping his game up at just the right time is Kevin Minter. He’s part of an excellent linebacking corps in the desert and is having his best season. Before this year they may have seriously considered parting ways, but may want him back now.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd may command more money on the open market that Arizona thinks he worth. Fellow 2017 free agent Jaron Brown will most likely get less and is a very underrated pass-catcher. The front office may feel that Brown will be an adequate, cheaper replacement.
The list of free agents doesn’t end there. Others include Frostee Rucker, Chris Johnson, Jermaine Gresham, Tharold Simon, A.Q. Shipley, and Andre Ellington.
It’s evident that general manager Steve Keim has his work cut out for him next offseason. There will be many tough decisions. Here’s hoping he makes all the right moves to keep Arizona contending for years to come.