The Arizona Cardinals’ 2019 free agent group is not nearly as impressive as it’s been in previous years for the organization
The Arizona Cardinals’ 2019 offseason is shaping up to be an extremely important one for the franchise. The current campaign, up until now at least, has been an unmitigated disaster. Some important decisions will need to be made on a free agent list that is once again lengthy.
Whether general manager Steve Keim will still be around to be in on the reshaping of the roster is up for some debate. The two-time NFL Executive of the Year has done a terrible job over the past few years. Keim has missed on way too many draft picks, and the hiring of head coach Steve Wilks appears to be a huge mistake.
At first glance, the Cards’ 2019 free agent group is not an impressive one. There are certainly good players on the list, but none would really be considered top-tier. Quite a few of the bunch may be permitted to leave, meaning that next year’s Arizona squad could potentially look much different.
The highest priority among the contingent should be defensive end Markus Golden. The former second-round pick has battled back from the torn ACL he suffered in 2017, and is playing well. Golden can strike fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks (12.5 sacks in 2016), and is also a more than capable run defender.
Before Wilks and his defensive staff arrived, Deone Bucannon was one of the Cardinals’ most productive tacklers. Unfortunately, based on the limited playing time he’s been afforded, the linebacker doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the new coaches. Bucannon will most likely not be offered a new contract, which could turn out to be yet another front office blunder.
It’s hard to gauge if Larry Fitzgerald has anything left or not, based on the ridiculously bad offense that he’s been a part of this season. The wide receiver has flashed his greatness at times, however. If management can improve his surrounding cast, there’s a decent possibility that Fitzgerald could be asked to come back for a 16th season.
Bene Benwikere has held his own as Arizona’s number-two cornerback thus far. While the personnel department could ultimately look to find someone better for the spot, a secondary can never have enough cover guys. For that reason alone, Benwikere has definitely proved that he’s worth bringing back to the nest for another campaign.
If Wilks does manage to remain the coach, there’s a decent chance that Tre Boston could be back as well. The mouthy safety has missed a bit of time due to injury, but has made plays when he’s been healthy. Boston plays with a boatload of energy, and seems to be constantly around the football.
One of the pleasant surprises of this past offseason’s free agent class has been Benson Mayowa. In a part-time role, the defensive end has racked up 28 tackles, three sacks and two passes defensed. If he’s re-signed, Mayowa can provide some intriguing depth behind Golden and Chandler Jones.
A couple of other free agents, defensive tackle Rodney Gunter and defensive end Zach Moore, fall into the take them or leave them category. It’s pretty safe to think that others like guard Mike Iupati, kicker Phil Dawson and wide receiver J.J. Nelson will be moving on.
Of course, evaluations are ongoing. There’s still a good amount of football yet to be played in 2018. Plenty of time for current Cardinals to prove they deserve to be back, or to write their ticket out of town.