Arizona Cardinals looking for rebound performance from Justin Pugh
Justin Pugh needs to prove to the Arizona Cardinals that he’s worthy of the substantial amount of cash they gave him in 2018
It was around this time last year that the Arizona Cardinals doled out a large contract for free agent guard Justin Pugh. In dire need of talent across the offensive line, the club’s front office managed to lure him away from the New York Giants, where he performed well. However, the jury is still out on whether that acquisition was a smart expenditure or not.
Pugh was brought to the desert to help improve an offensive line that was among the league’s worst in 2017. The veteran was signed to a five-year, $45 million contract, including $13 million in guarantees, that he did not perform up to during the 2018 season.
The 28-year old received below-average grades as an overall blocker from Pro Football Focus in 2018. Pugh finished the year with a 50.7 grade, ranking him 64th amongst eligible guards. Injuries were also a factor for the former 2013 first-round draft pick during the year. A broken hand and a knee issue caused Pugh to play in just seven games.
The 6’5, 311-lb guard missed a fair share of playing time while with the New York Giants as well. Pugh sat out a total of 17 games in five seasons in New York. His setbacks over the years include a strained quadriceps, concussion, strained MCL and a back problem.
Arizona’s blocking unit will once again require management’s attention in the upcoming months. Due to the excessive amount of coin that’s invested in him, Pugh will receive his share of chances at the right guard position. The remaining four spots on the line will most likely be under the microscope, however.
In a nutshell, the Cardinals need to get much more out of their ’18 offensive line investment. At the very least, Pugh needs to be available for the team on Sundays. Playing a 16-game schedule for the Cardinals in 2019 would be a great way for him to start proving he’s worth the money.