The Arizona Cardinals’ 2018 roster will look much different thanks to the various players who are no longer with the club
The Arizona Cardinals squad that will be taking the field come September will have a much different look to it. Sure, many of the core members remain. A decent amount of familiar faces have left, however, and it will be interesting to see how much the Cardinals are affected by the departures.
The retirement of Carson Palmer wasn’t a huge surprise, but it wasn’t exactly welcome news either. The quarterback had stabilized a position that was in dire straits ever since Kurt Warner hung up the cleats in 2010. Sam Bradford has arrived to replace Palmer, but there are durability concerns surrounding the 30-year old passer.
The backup signal-callers are new as well. Gone are Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. Many experts feel that rookie Josh Rosen is already equipt to play, and new third-stringer Mike Glennon has 22 career starts under his belt.
The release of Tyrann Mathieu was a surprise to many. The defensive back was slated to make an exorbitant amount of money in 2018, more cash than the Cards thought he was worth. Second-year safety Budda Baker will attempt to make the fans forget that the “Honey Badger” even existed in the desert.
Jared Veldheer had been a savior at the left tackle post when he arrived in 2014. But the giant struggled when he was moved to the right side last year, and then suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Free agent right tackle Andre Smith may out-perform Veldheer, who was out of position in 2017, and is now with the Denver Broncos.
The now-departed John Brown and Jaron Brown have not done anything spectacular at the wide receiver position lately. Second-round draft pick Christian Kirk and free agent signee Brice Butler could both be improvements over those two. Disappointing tight end Troy Niklas is now with the New England Patriots, and the unimpressive Beau Sandland is the only addition that the Cardinals have made at the position this offseason.
The free agent defection of defensive end Josh Mauro may be felt by the team. Despite the fact that Arizona has switched to a 4-3 defensive alignment, management has yet to add anyone significant to their front line. Mauro was by no means a Pro Bowler type, but was a solid contributor nonetheless.
Running back Kerwynn Williams quietly performed whenever the Cardinals needed him to. The 5’8″, 198 pounder was offered a contract by the Kansas City Chiefs, and decided to jump ship. There’s a group of inexperienced runners currently behind David Johnson on the depth chart, so general manager Steve Keim may regret letting Williams leave.
A few others have also flown the coup. Justin Bethel never turned into the cornerback that the Cards had hoped he would be, and outside linebacker Kareem Martin is nothing more than a backup. Wide receiver Brittan Golden contributed mostly on special teams, and is highly replaceable.
Exactly how much these wholesale changes will affect Arizona on the playing field is now the question. Hopefully, the personnel decisions that Keim made were good ones. Only time will tell.