The Arizona Cardinals could once again be looking to overhaul their offensive line when next year’s offseason rolls around
For the past several years, the Arizona Cardinals front office has struggled to assemble an effective offensive line. Adding reinforcements to the blocking unit, it seems, has become an annual chore for general manager Steve Keim and his helpers. The line received assistance this past offseason as well, but the performance of the crew remains as mediocre as ever.
If things continue as they are, that area of the offense could be in for yet another overhaul in 2020. Six of the Cards current linemen are scheduled to become free agents at the conclusion of the year. It’s an unimpressive group, so it wouldn’t be a total surprise if the club’s management decided to pass on bringing any of them back for next season.
Left tackle D.J. Humphries is likely to be the most talked about player of the six. The 25-year old, who’s now in his fifth season with Arizona, has logged just 30 professional starts. Re-signing Humphries is not out of the question, but the squad would be much better off attempting to find an upgrade for the spot.
Anthony Castonzo, the Indianapolis Colts starting left tackle, would be an outstanding addition for the Cardinals. The 31-year old, who has started 116 games during his NFL career, is headed to free agency next spring. Castonzo would almost certainly be on the Cards wish list if Indianapolis neglects to use the franchise tag on the talented veteran.
Right tackle Marcus Gilbert, an Arizona trade acquisition who was injured just days before the season-opener, also has an expiring contract. It’s quite possible that the 31-year old will never play a single down for Big Red. Jordan Mills and Justin Murray, Gilbert’s stand-ins, will also be free agents when the 2019 schedule concludes.
Bryan Bulaga, who’s now in his 10th campaign with the Green Bay Packers, would be a superb replacement for Gilbert on the right side in ’20. The 30-year old free agent-to-be, a first-round draft pick in 2010, has 99 pro starts on his resume.
Another intriguing candidate for the Cardinals right tackle post is Jack Conklin of the Tennessee Titans. The 44-game starter was a First-team All-Pro in 2016. Conklin, the eight-overall selection of the 2016 draft, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after 13 more contests with Tennessee.
A.Q. Shipley is another Cards blocker who’ll be seeking a new deal next offseason. The 33-year old beat out Mason Cole for the team’s starting center position during training camp this past summer. It stands to reason that Cole would be promoted if Shipley leaves town, but there’s an interesting free agent option as well.
Center Graham Glasgow has been credited with 43 starts since he entered the league in 2016. The former third-round choice, who was initially a left guard for the Lions, started 16 matchups at center for the organization in 2018.
Both of Arizona’s starting guards, Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy, are still under contract for next season. We’ll assume, for now, that the pair will be staying put. If one does end up departing, however, two-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff of the Washington Redskins would look fantastic in a Cardinals uniform.
Continuity is the key to a successful offensive line. The Cards personnel department will be given another chance to achieve that in 2020. Perhaps next year they’ll finally get it right.