Haason Reddick‘s absence could force the Arizona Cardinals to address their lack of depth at the inside linebacker position
The knee surgery that sidelined starter Haason Reddick has put the club’s inside linebacker position in the spotlight. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph recently commented that the squad is “very deep” at the spot. Perhaps it would behoove the veteran assistant to take another look.
For the time being at least, second-year defender Dennis Gardeck will be filling in for the injured Reddick. The 24-year old, who signed with the Cards as an undrafted free agent last year, is an unknown commodity at this point. Gardeck was activated for all 16 games as a rookie last season, but was used primarily on special teams.
Arizona is hoping that Reddick will be back in time for the season opener on September 8th. The 13th-overall pick of the 2017 draft had his knee scoped after a problem with his meniscus was discovered. The prognosis could’ve been much worse, but a possibility does exist that Reddick could be out longer than expected.
Despite the apparent confidence in Gardeck, the Cardinals would be smart to add some insurance. The franchise’s other options at inside linebacker include Joe Walker and Tanner Vallejo, a pair of backups who have just four NFL starts between them. If the front office does decide that a reinforcement would make sense, there are a handful of free agents still searching for work who could help.
The most interesting name on the open market is Mason Foster. The 30-year old, who was released by the Washington Redskins last week, has racked up an eye-popping 661 tackles during his eight years in the league. Foster has appeared in 107 professional contests and has 92 starts on his resume.
Old friend Josh Bynes is also looking for employment. To the surprise of many, the Cards cut ties with the 29-year old this past March. Bynes tallied 75 tackles, five passes defensed and two sacks for the team in 2018.
A couple of other players could provide assistance as well. Vincent Rey, who spent nine campaigns with the Cincinnati Bengals, has accumulated 498 tackles since he turned pro in 2010. Kelvin Sheppard has tallied 423 tackles since 2011, playing for five different organizations.
Arizona general manager Steve Keim has had success in the past with the one-year, “prove-it” deals he has orchestrated. The inside linebacker candidates mentioned in this article would fit that bill quite well. Employment with the Cardinals for at least one of them is just a phone call away.