Arizona Cardinals could improve offensive line with veteran

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Austin Howard
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 22: Austin Howard /

Recently released veteran Austin Howard would provide a solid solution to the Arizona Cardinals’ question mark at right guard

The Arizona Cardinals’ front office would like to believe that they are set at the right guard position. The retirement of Evan Mathis wasn’t unexpected, so general manager Steve Keim knew he would have a hole to fill. There’s a plan for that in place, but a more experienced solution for that hole is now available.

The Oakland Raiders have released offensive lineman Austin Howard. The Cards’ current starter at right guard is second-year player, Evan Boehm. The question then to ask is, if Howard was already in camp, would it even be a competition?

If you buy into the premise that the Cardinals’ Super Bowl window is closing, then Howard should be signed as soon as possible. The 30-year old has 72 career NFL starts under his belt, compared to the one that Boehm has made. Therefore, as far as experience, it’s certainly a one-man race.

At the same time, Arizona’s management believes that the inexperienced Boehm has a promising future. But does that future have to begin in 2017? Wouldn’t a 37-year old quarterback like Carson Palmer sleep better at night knowing a veteran like Howard is out front protecting him?

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Howard has been a versatile lineman throughout his career. The 6’7″, 330 pounder has played both right guard and right tackle over the course of his pro existence. Versatility is something head coach Bruce Arians loves to have in his players.

Another plus in signing Howard is that players released this late in the offseason tend to have lower contract demands. He’d appear to be a good candidate for one of Keim’s one-year “prove-it” deals.

As it stands now, the Cards don’t have much experienced depth at the guard position. If Boehm were to falter, the club could find themselves with a major liability on the inside of their offensive line.

Kicking the tires on Howard would be a prudent move. If Arizona is serious about contending this year, they’ll try their hardest to ink the former undrafted free agent to a deal. Their odds of winning would most likely increase if Keim can get it done.