After adding a few underwhelming free agents, the Arizona Cardinals have rebounded nicely with the acquisition of Justin Pugh
The Arizona Cardinals were falling behind. While many of the NFL’s top free agents were signing elsewhere, general manager Steve Keim was adding mediocre pieces. That’s no longer the case.
Arizona’s acquisition of the New York Giants’ Justin Pugh is an impressive one. In dire need of offensive line help, the club went out and got one of the top guards on the market. The deal is a significant one, worth $45 million over five years.
Pugh was the 19th-overall pick of the 2013 draft. After starting his career at right tackle, the Giants moved the former Syracuse Orangeman to left guard. Pugh then flourished, grading out as one of Pro Football Focus’ top guards in two consecutive seasons (2015-16).
The news isn’t all great, however. Pugh played in just half of New York’s games in 2017. A back injury sidelined the 6’4″, 300 pounder, but a recent MRI revealed no reason for concern going forward.
Pugh will assume the right guard post with the Cardinals, a spot that the squad was extremely weak at in ’17. Converted center Evan Boehm started eight contests there to start the campaign, but needed to be replaced. Former Card Earl Watford was re-signed in October, but didn’t fare much better.
Pugh isn’t the offensive line’s new member. Former Cincinnati Bengal Andre Smith signed a two-year contract, most likely to start at right tackle. Incumbent starter Jared Veldheer is in limbo because of an inflated salary-cap figure.
Arizona has invested heavily in Pugh, with the hopes that the 27-year old will lift the unit’s performance. Keim has been trying to fix the offensive line since being promoted to GM five years ago. Pugh’s arrival in the desert is certainly a step towards achieving that goal.