Safety help could be on Arizona Cardinals offseason agenda
What appeared to be a strength heading into the current campaign has turned into a question mark for the Arizona Cardinals
Early on in the 2019 offseason, the safety position appeared to be a strength of the Arizona Cardinals. New coordinator Vance Joseph seemed to be set with Budda Baker and D.J. Swearinger manning the starting spots. Later on, the Cards would add rookies Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson to fill out the depth chart.
Unfortunately, things did not work out as well as the Cardinals had hoped. Swearinger proved to be a disaster in coverage, and was released after just four weeks. Baker has been adequate, but at the same time has not provided the defense with any big plays.
For now, it looks as if Arizona general manager Steve Keim will sit tight with what he has on the back end of the secondary. The demise of Swearinger was obviously not expected, and it left the front office with very few options for a replacement. Next offseason will be a totally different story, however.
The Cards, according to Spotrac.com, will have upwards of $79 million in salary-cap space at their disposal in 2020. Anyone who has watched Joseph’s group perform this season should be well aware of their deficiencies. Safety is one position that should certainly find a place on Keim’s priority list.
One free agent who could be of some help in that area is HaHa Clinton-Dix. The 26-year old Chicago Bear was a first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers back in 2014. Clinton-Dix has tallied 483 tackles, 16 interceptions and 30 passes defensed in 85 career games (79 starts).
There’s another former first-round selection who could also end up on Arizona’s radar. Devin McCourty was drafted by the New England Patriots back in 2010, and has spent all 10 of his professional seasons with that organization. The veteran’s eye-popping numbers include 734 tackles, 25 picks and 84 pass breakups in 145 NFL starts.
Rodney McLeod of the Philadelphia Eagles will be available in ’20 as well. The 29-year old spent his first four campaigns with the St. Louis Rams before leaving for the Eagles in 2016. McLeod has racked up 407 tackles, 12 interceptions, 38 passes defensed and 9 forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2012.
One other prospective free agent safety worth mentioning is Kurt Coleman of the Buffalo Bills. The former seventh-round pick has also made appearances with the Eagles, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. Coleman has recorded 535 tackles, 21 picks and 36 pass breakups in his 10 pro seasons.
Any of the defenders mentioned in this article would be welcomed by the franchise. Upgrades on the defensive side of the ball are badly needed. Adding a talented safety should certainly be high up on the Cardinals to-do list when next year’s roster renovations get underway.