A couple of significant free agent additions could make an already viable group of Arizona Cardinals linebackers even better
There’s no denying that the Arizona Cardinals’ front office has done some impressive things this offseason. Several additions that were made, to the defense, in particular, should pay significant dividends. In fact, a couple of linebackers who were signed back in March could possibly elevate that group specifically to an elite level.
Thanks to the arrival of defensive guru Vance Joseph, sack specialist Chandler Jones will be returning to outside linebacker. The Cards’ respected new coordinator is bringing back the 3-4 defense to the desert, an alignment that the squad got away from last season. Jones excelled when he last played in that system, racking up an NFL-leading 17 sacks for the Cardinals from the linebacker post back in 2017.
With Jones back at a position where he’s obviously comfortable, the Cards went out and found another quality pass-rusher to play opposite their star defender. Terrell Suggs was the choice, a 16-year veteran who has 132.5 sacks as a pro on his resume. The long-time Baltimore Raven, a seven-time Pro Bowler, will likely finish his illustrious career in his home state of Arizona.
The inside linebacker slot was addressed as well when general manager Steve Keim lured free agent Jordan Hicks away from the Philadelphia Eagles. The 26-year old, who was a three-down performer during his four campaigns in Philly, will assume that same role with the Cardinals. Hicks’ most impressive season was back in 2016 when he tallied 85 tackles, five interceptions, 11 passes defensed and a sack for the Eagles.
Haason Reddick, a first-round pick of the Cards two years ago, quietly had a very productive sophomore campaign for the organization in 2018. The former Temple University star totaled 80 tackles, four sacks and five pass breakups in 16 appearances (12 starts) last year. More of the same will be expected from Reddick this fall when he lines up next to Hicks at his starting inside linebacker spot.
On paper, at least, Keim appears to have done an excellent job. The pairing of Jones and Suggs will be lots of fun to watch, even if it’s only for one season. With Hicks and Reddick also on board, it’s safe to say that the linebackers will be a strength of the Cardinals this coming fall.