Right tackle Justin Murray has done an admirable job, but the Arizona Cardinals may still look to upgrade at the spot in 2020
Back in September, just prior to the season-opener, something unfortunate happened to the Arizona Cardinals offense. Marcus Gilbert, an experienced right tackle who was obtained in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered a torn ACL during practice. The 31-year old was placed on the injured-reserve list, effectively ending his Cardinals career before it even got started.
Just days before the incident, Arizona unknowingly plucked a replacement for Gilbert off of the waiver wire. Justin Murray, acquired by the front office to provide depth, would instead take over as the squad’s new starting right tackle. It was far from an ideal situation, so all the Cards could do was keep their fingers crossed and hope for the best.
After a shaky start to the season, Murray has since settled in nicely. The former Oakland Raider has done an admirable job for the Cardinals, especially considering the fact that he spent the entire offseason with another club. In fact, Murray was Pro Football Focus’ top-rated right tackle for week 11 following the superb effort he turned in against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.
Despite the positives, it’s quite possible that Arizona could do better at the position in 2020. Coincidentally, both Murray and Gilbert have contracts that will expire at the conclusion of the current campaign. Could Cards general manager Steve Keim delve into the free agent market to find an upgrade for the right tackle spot?
If management does decide to go down that road, 10-year veteran Bryan Bulaga would certainly be an excellent option. The long-time Green Bay Packer, if signed by Keim, would instantly become the Cardinals best offensive lineman. Bulaga, with 105 NFL starts on his resume, would bring a ton of experience with him to the desert.
Jack Conklin of the Tennessee Titans would also be an outstanding addition for Arizona. The eight-overall pick of the 2016 draft has 51 professional starts under his belt. The 25-year old Conklin was voted a First-Team All Pro following his rookie season.
Mike Remmers of the New York Giants entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2012. The 6’5, 310 pound journeyman has started contests for the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants during his time in the NFL. Besides being pressed into duty as a right tackle, the versatile Remmers has logged first-team snaps as a left tackle (Panthers) and right guard (Vikings) as well.
Germain Ifedi of the Seattle Seahawks was the 31st-overall selection of the 2016 draft. The 6’6, 325 pounder has registered 54 career starts for the Cards division rival, but could very well be preparing to find a new home. Back in May, the Seahawks gave Ifedi a clear path to free agency by declining the fifth-year option on the 25-year old’s contract.
Any of the four right tackles mentioned in this article would be a solid component for the Cardinals blocking unit. The team’s attempt at solidifying the position with Gilbert obviously went awry. Perhaps Arizona’s front office will have better luck in 2020 with a free agent acquisition.