Current Arizona Cardinals core set for final run

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

With their star quarterback and wide receiver now coming back the Arizona Cardinals’ front office must provide them assistance

It’s now official for the Arizona Cardinals. First, Larry Fitzgerald proclaimed he’d return for 2017. Now, with Carson Palmer announcing he’s joining his favorite target, Cards’ management must go to work.

For Arizona to have any chance of winning a Super Bowl, they must protect the quarterback. Offensive tackle Jared Veldheer’s return from a torn triceps will help. The early plan for next season indicates that he will be moved to right tackle, with D.J.Humphries manning the left side.

Right guard will need to be addressed now that Evan Mathis has retired. Free agent Kevin Zeitler would be the best replacement, but he may cost too much. T.J.Lang and Larry Warford would be more affordable free agent options.

Some Arizona fans have shown displeasure with starting center A.Q.Shipley, who’s also a free agent. With this most likely being Palmer and Fitzgerald’s last hurrah, would management trust second-year player Evan Boehm to start? Former Minnesota Vikings’ starter John Sullivan is an intriguing free agent who was a backup in Washington last year.

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Arizona is hoping wide receiver John Brown can overcome the sickle cell condition that hampered him in ’16. If he can’t, the position may need help. Kendall Wright, Anquan Boldin and Kamar Aiken are free agents who may not break their bank.

The cornerback position opposite Patrick Peterson is once again unresolved. Free agents A.J.Bouye, Trumaine Johnson and Stephon Gilmore may want more than the Cardinals can pay. Dre Kirkpatrick, Prince Amukamara and sleeper candidate Sterling Moore could be more in their price range.

Head coach Bruce Arians has said that the franchise tag will be used on outside linebacker Chandler Jones if he isn’t signed beforehand. The best-case scenario is that both he and defensive end Calais Campbell return to the nest. An upgrade at inside linebacker would help, and re-signing one of the two free agent safeties (Tony Jefferson, D.J.Swearinger) should be a priority.

Finally, a special teams overhaul is needed. Since coach Amos Jones is staying, improved personnel will be key. Cordarrelle Patterson, Phil Dawson, Eric Weems, Britton Colquitt, Bryan Braman, Robbie Gould and Shane Lechler are free agents that could help.