The Arizona Cardinals should make a play for guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency
Free agency hasn’t begun yet, but speculation is already running rampant. The Arizona Cardinals have a bunch of free agents to deal with, and they are sure to lose more than one starter from 2016. They’ll have to look for talent to replace them with, and one player they should strongly consider is guard Kevin Zeitler.
The Cardinals could certainly use a top-tier player to man the right guard spot going forward. Evan Mathis was signed to play there last year, but got hurt. AQ Shipley started at center in 2016, but is a free agent, though the team could bring him back. Whether Shipley returns or not, the right guard spot is unsettled. Evan Boehm is a possibility, but he’s an unknown as a permanent player there.
A strong offensive line can be the difference between an average team and a great team. The Dallas Cowboys had a top five offense in 2016 despite having a rookie quarterback, due in large part to having a dominant offensive line. The Cardinals offense was also strong, despite a number of injuries up front. Adding Zeitler to a healthy group featuring Mike Iupati, Jason Veldheer, and an up and coming DJ Humphries could make the unit one of the NFL’s best.
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Zeitler was a 2012 first round draft choice of the Cincinnati Bengals. He immediately established himself as the starting right guard, and has held the spot down admirably since. He moves well, and his feet allow him to be a dominant pass blocker, and be effective in the run game, especially when asked to pull.
He’ll be just 27 years old when the season starts, and as a free agent, Zeitler stands to get a big contract this off-season. With all the free agents that the Cardinals have to deal with, it might seem like a reach to give an outside player a big deal. However, there’s a very good chance that Tony Jefferson and Calais Campbell will be gone, so they could have the space to make a splash.
The Cardinals have Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald coming back, and want to make another championship push before they retire. Giving Palmer a dominant offensive line can only help him as he comes off a down year. David Johnson would definitely benefit as well.
Building through the NFL Draft is the preferred way to get better for NFL teams. However, sometimes a key free agent can make all the difference. The Cardinals are talented enough to compete. Adding Kevin Zeitler would make them better, and would be a smart signing.