In a year that will bring changes, the Arizona Cardinals would be smart to move on from some of their disappointing players
The Arizona Cardinals would have to admit that they’ve made mistakes. Evaluating football players is far from an exact science. General manager Steve Keim and his helpers are not perfect.
One of the keys for a successful front office is admitting when you’re wrong. Unfortunately, that’s something that Keim hasn’t always done. That being said, with changes on the horizon, it may be the perfect time to move on from certain pieces of the roster.
One of the more interesting dilemmas for the 2018 offseason concerns starting safety Tyrann Mathieu. The “Honey Badger” has had a rollercoaster career since he was the Cardinals’ third-round draft pick in 2013. An MVP-type campaign in 2015 was a highlight, while two major knee surgeries have seemingly slowed Mathieu’s ascent to stardom.
Ignoring the second of those knee injuries (which occurred in December of ’15), Arizona rewarded the “Badger” in a big way. Just eight months after going under the knife, Mathieu was handed a five-year, $62.5 million extension. There’s a very good chance that Keim is now regretting that deal.
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The question now is, how do the Cards get out of that inflated contract? Perhaps they can persuade Mathieu to take a deserved pay cut. If not, as painful as this is to say, the one-time heart of the Cardinals defense may need to be given his walking papers.
Troy Niklas was a second-round pick in 2014, brought to the Valley of the Sun to solidify the tight end position. The Notre Dame product has had trouble staying on the field, and has never put up the kind of numbers that were expected from him. Management has been patient with the 6’6″, 270 pound Niklas, possibly hoping for something from him that he just can’t provide.
Brandon Williams was brought to the desert in 2016 to be the team’s number-two cornerback. The former college running back was drafted a bit too high (third-round), for someone who played corner for just one year at Texas A&M. Williams never cut the mustard as a defensive back, so he may not be worthy of the roster spot he’s been occupying.
Placekicker Phil Dawson, despite a strong finish, struggled mightily in ’17. Brought to Arizona to be an improvement over Chandler Catanzaro, the 42-year instead botched eight field-goal attempts and three extra points. Dawson is signed for 2018, but is he reliable enough to retain?
Keim made a blunder when he inked cornerback Justin Bethel to a $15 million extension in 2015. The Cards were hoping he’d be successful starting opposite Patrick Peterson, but the special teams ace couldn’t handle the job. Now that Bethel is set to become an unrestricted free agent, it would behoove the Cardinals to let him get a fresh start somewhere else.
Mistakes are made every day, both in life and in professional sports. Arizona has certainly made their fair share of them. But don’t fret Cards’ fans, everything your club has gotten wrong is fixable.