Arizona Cardinals could seek free agent defensive linemen
By Jim Koch
Improvements along the front line could go a long way in making the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive unit a viable group again
The Arizona Cardinals will find themselves in a unique position this offseason. It’s not often that the club has an ample amount of salary-cap room to work with. This year, however, the Cardinals have the resources to be major players once the free agent signing period begins.
One area of the squad that could use some upgrading is the defensive line. With new coordinator Vance Joseph on board, the Cards will be reverting back to a 3-4 alignment. With the transition will come changes to the defensive front.
Ndamukong Suh, who’s contract with the Los Angeles Rams is set to expire, would be a fine addition. The 32-year old tallied 59 tackles, four and a half sacks and four passes defensed in 2018. With Corey Peters most likely going back to the nose tackle spot, perhaps Suh could line up at defensive end in Joseph’s 3-4 setup.
Another player scheduled for free agency, Allen Bailey, would also look good in an Arizona uniform. The 30-year old is in the midst of the best season of his eight-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Bailey racked up 38 tackles, six sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 16 appearances (13 starts) during the regular season.
Muhammad Wilkerson missed 13 games in ’18 because of an ankle injury, after signing a one-year deal with the Green Bay Packers. It’s been reported that the 29-year old will be ready for the 2019 campaign, so the former New York Jet will be shopping himself when free agency commences. Wilkerson’s NFL resume includes 410 tackles, 44.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, two interceptions and a 2015 Pro Bowl appearance.
Another former Jet, Sheldon Richardson, will also be looking for work. The 28-year old amassed 50 tackles, four and a half sacks and an impressive 16 quarterback hits last year for the Minnesota Vikings. Richardson was the 13th-overall pick of the 2013 draft, and was voted to the Pro Bowl following the 2014 season.
A pair of current Jets d-linemen will also be free agents in March. Brandon Copeland registered 35 tackles, five sacks and 14 quarterback hits in 16 appearances (10 starts) in ’18. Henry Anderson tallied 35 tackles, seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 16 appearances (just three starts) last year.
The Cardinals’ run defense was painful to watch this past fall. Joseph’s new scheme will certainly help to remedy that deficiency. A quality free agent acquisition, or two, could help even more.