Arizona Cardinals May Need Depth at Inside Linebacker
The injury to inside linebacker Deone Bucannon will sting, so the Arizona Cardinals may have to add depth to deal with it
Don’t look now, but the Arizona Cardinals have already suffered their first injury. And they haven’t even played a down yet.
Reports that inside linebacker Deone Bucannon has had ankle surgery is far from welcome news in Cardinal land. The fact that the starter could miss a good portion of the 2017 campaign makes the news even more alarming. “Buc” missed the final part of last year with the same problem, so couldn’t the operation have been performed sooner?
Only the powers that be know the answer to that question. The club must now find a way to survive the temporary loss of one of their leading tacklers. Reinforcements may be needed.
More from Raising Zona
- Arizona Cardinals: Could Eric Bieniemy come to the desert?
- Would Jonathan Gannon be a good fit for the Arizona Cardinals?
- Arizona Cardinals: Budda Baker right in his take regarding the next coach
- Arizona Cardinals: 3 reasons new coach should want to work with Murray
- Arizona Cardinals special teams could be completely revamped in 2023
As if the Arizona front office had a crystal ball, Haason Reddick was taken with the organization’s first-round pick. The Temple University defensive end will be moved to inside linebacker by the Cards. A position-change that was decided on before the announcement of Bucannon’s surgery.
The free agent signing of third-time Cardinal Karlos Dansby now looks like a brilliant move. The 35-year old will not only assume a starting role, he’ll also serve Reddick’s mentor. For now, the kid will be given an expedited education on how to play his new position.
Inexperienced is a good word to describe the rest of Arizona’s inside linebackers. Alani Fua is heading into his third campaign with the team, and has just eight career tackles. The 25-year old spent most of 2016 on injured reserve due to a knee injury.
Zaviar Gooden, a mid-season pickup last year, has three career starts (all with the Tennessee Titans). He started last season with the Detroit Lions before landing with the Cards. The 26-year old has 43 total tackles in three NFL seasons.
Former Arizona Wildcat star Scooby Wright was plucked off the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad last December. He played in three contests at the end of last year, predominantly on special teams. The youngster will get more of a look-see this offseason because of the current circumstances.
Sio Moore was brought in by the Cardinals last November and registered 35 tackles in four games (three starts). The four-year veteran is currently an unrestricted free agent waiting for his phone to ring. General manager Steve Keim certainly has his digits.
The newly-reinstated Daryl Washington was just released by Arizona last week. If reports are true, Keim was offering the 30-year old a minimum salary to return, which was rejected. Would the offer still be available if the free agent market proves barren for the 2012 Pro Bowler?
Besides Moore and Washington, there are other veteran free agents available. The choices include Brandon Spikes, D’Qwell Jackson, Rey Maualuga, Gerald Hodges, Perry Riley and Daryl Smith.
Next: Cardinals Young Linebackers Destined for Greatness
When Bucannon will be able to return is the big question. A trip to the physically unable to perform list (PUP) would mean he’s out the first six games of the regular-season. The Cards are hoping for a better outcome than that.