The Arizona Cardinals Should Trade for Sheldon Richardson

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

The Arizona Cardinals should check on a trade for defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson

If the Arizona Cardinals wish to make a final push for a championship with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, this off-season is very important. The announcements that  their star quarterback and receiver were returning gave fans, and team management a boost, but there are other factors.

Among the numerous free agents that they Cardinals have to deal with is defensive end Calais Campbell. The veteran lineman is not only a fan favorite, but has been a great player, and is a key part of the defense.

As free agency gets closer, it appears, more and more, that Campbell will be playing elsewhere in 2017. If that’s the case, there is a sudden need for a strong presence up front. One option to replace him could be Sheldon Richardson.

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Richardson was a first round draft pick in 2013, and immediately earned a starting spot for the New York Jets. He quickly became an impact player. In his second season, he recorded eight sacks, and had five more in 2015, despite a suspension that shortened his season. However, on a crowded line in New York, his production, and playing time diminished, and he became expendable.

The Cardinals have Robert Nkemdiche, drafted last year, and Josh Mauro on the roster, but are otherwise short on defensive linemen. The Jets would love to get a high pick for Richardson, but might have to settle for a third rounder.. The Cardinals third round pick is early, so that could work in their favor.

Money would be the biggest obstacle. Campbell could command more than $10 million per year, which might be out of Arizona’s range. Richardson is set to make just over $8 million next season, and would be a free agent in 2018. So, he would basically be a one year rental at the cost of a third round draft pick. But the $2 million in savings could make the difference.

Next: Cardinals Free Agent Preview: Calais Campbell

The Cardinals would love to earn a ring for Palmer and Fitzgerald before they retire. Losing key players like Campbell could make that difficult, so adding an effective replacement has to happen.  A Pro Bowl caliber player, like Richardson, makes sense. He might wind up being just a rental, but if he regains his 2014 form, he would make that championship run much more possible.