A.Q. Shipley: Should he stay or should he go?
Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley is an unrestricted free agent. Should he be a Cardinal in 2017?
The Arizona Cardinals have a number of free agents going into 2017. Some will return to the desert, while others will move on. In this series – titled “Should he stay or should he go?” – I look at the cases for and against the return of key free agents, from both the team perspective and the player perspective.
Next up: Center A.Q. Shipley
Why the Cardinals should re-sign him:
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians seems to trust A.Q. Shipley. This may be partially tied to their shared history.
Arians’ familiarity with Shipley dates back to their time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2009 – during Arians’ tenure as offensive coordinator – the Steelers selected Shipley with the 226th pick, in the seventh round of the NFL draft. Although Shipley did not make the active roster, he was signed to the Steeler’s practice squad.
Arians and Shipley met up again in 2012, while they were both a part of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Shipley rejoined Arians in 2015, after signing a two-year contract to join the Cardinals. During his first season with Arizona, Shipley served as the backup to long-time Cardinal center Lyle Sendlein.
In 2016, Shipley won the starting job, and started all sixteen regular season games. According to Pro Football Focus, Shipley had a respectable 82.4 rating in 2016. This placed him near the middle-of-the-pack for starting centers.
Though the Cardinals used a fourth round pick in 2016 to select the player that they hope will be their center of the future – former Missouri center Evan Boehm – bringing back Shipley offers the Cardinals a veteran option to bridge the gap until Boehm is ready to take over.
Moreover, Boehm could end up playing right guard in 2017, leaving room for Shipley to continue at center. However it might unfold, you can never have too many quality linemen in the NFL – especially when injuries occur.
Additionally, Shipley has articulated a desire to return to the Cardinals, and there is a fair chance that the Cardinals will be able to bring him back without overspending.
Why the Cardinals should not re-sign him:
Shipley is not a star at his position, however he has demonstrated that he is a starting caliber center. It is possible that a team with a need at the position, might be willing to sign Shipley to a bigger contract than what the Cardinals are willing to offer.
Shipley is 30 years old, and will be 31 at the start of the 2017 season. If he is not willing sign for less in order to stay with Arians, it might behoove the Cardinals to run with Boehm at center, and use the cap savings to address other positions.