Help wanted sign hanging in Arizona Cardinals’ window
With the 2017 training camp approaching in rapid fashion, the roster of the Arizona Cardinals remains an unfinished product
It’s about that time of the year for the Arizona Cardinals. Time to check the shelves, see what the inventory looks like. A close look reveals a few bare spots that management would be smart to address before the 2017 season commences.
It’s getting late in the offseason but some talented players remain unemployed. The fact that they’re still available this close to training camp could be an indication of a problem. Nevertheless, this is the point where a good general manager can find diamonds in the rough, as Arizona’s Steve Keim has done successfully in the past.
Some of Keim’s best late-offseason signings include the likes of John Abraham, Eric Winston, Chris Johnson, Jermaine Gresham and Dwight Freeney (inked in October of ’15). Can the GM and his cohorts find that kind of quality again in the upcoming months?
If the Cards’ front office is serious about getting this year’s squad over the hump, then they better try. The club is roughly $13 million under the salary cap at the current time, certainly enough coin to add at least a player or two.
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Head coach Bruce Arians will tell you until he’s blue in the face that he’s happy with the Cardinals’ number-two cornerback situation. The coaching staff still has hopes for 2016’s third-round draft pick, Brandon Williams, and Justin Bethel has looked better, now that his aching foot has healed. Still, adding a veteran with experience for a reasonable rate would make sense.
One name Keim should be considering is Darrelle Revis, who is still relatively young enough (31) to help a contending team such as the Cards. Alterraun Verner also fits the bill, and is even younger (28) than Revis is. Other available candidates include Tracy Porter, Sam Shields, Brandon Flowers and even Mike Jenkins, a Cardinal in 2016 who was injured in the preseason.
If injured inside linebacker Deone Bucannon is eventually placed on the PUP list, he could miss at least six games. For those of you keeping score, that would be 37.5% of the ’17 campaign. Factoring in the learning curve of rookie Hassan Reddick and the advanced age of Karlos Dansby, perhaps Arizona could use some insurance at the spot.
Don’t tar and feather me Cards’ fans, but Daryl Washington is still unsigned. Admittedly though, that may very well be an impossibility. If it is, maybe Keim would consider Rey Maualuga, David Harris, Brandon Spikes, D’Qwell Jackson or Perry Riley.
There’s currently not much experience behind starting running back David Johnson. The aforementioned Chris Johnson is still seeking work. Some other possibilities include DeAngelo Williams, Rashad Jennings and James Starks.
Arizona is taking a chance by handing the starting right guard job to the inexperienced Evan Boehm. There isn’t much left out there as far as free agents go, however. Austin Pasztor is a 26-year old with 43 NFL starts under his belt, and Orlando Franklin is mostly experienced at right tackle and left guard.
Tight end Gary Barnidge may be a luxury at this point with Gresham back on board, but what a luxury he would be. The fact that Arians’ offense has traditionally ignored tight ends in the passing game makes signing the talented Barnidge even more of a longshot. Nevertheless, the 31-year old is an excellent receiver and would provide a tremendous downfield target for quarterback Carson Palmer.
There are plenty of options still out there for Keim to explore. The Cardinals look good on paper, but they could obviously be improved. The work of an NFL general manager is never done.