The Arizona Cardinals signed a bevy of veterans this past offseason, but ultimately decided that youth was a better option
Heading into the 2019 campaign, the Arizona Cardinals were much more of a veteran football team than they are at the moment. With a young head coach taking the reigns, the club’s management thought it was best to surround the squad’s new leader with some experienced free agents. Perhaps Kliff Kingsbury‘s transition to the NFL would go smoother with some players who had been around the block a time or two.
It was just around a year ago, on Christmas Day of 2018 to be exact, when Cards general manager Steve Keim made what appeared to be an extremely solid acquisition. D.J. Swearinger, who had just been released by the Washington Redskins, was invited back to the desert for a second term. The hard-hitting safety had spent two years with Arizona (2015-16), but had left after being offered a lucrative contract by the Redskins in March of 2017.
Swearinger’s second stint with the Cardinals did not go nearly as well as his first with the organization. The seventh-year pro was sent packing after appearing in just four contests for Big Red. Swearinger could still deliver a hit with the best of them, but his coverage skills had declined considerably.
Just one week before Swearinger was cut, the Cards had decided that Michael Crabtree was not worth the roster spot he was occupying. Kingsbury believed that the 32-year old wide receiver’s familiarity with the “Air Raid” offense would be a plus. However, Crabtree was credited with just four receptions for 22 yards in two appearances, and was subsequently released by Arizona on September 23rd.
Cornerback Tramaine Brock Sr.’s presence in the locker room seemed to be greatly appreciated following the suspension of Patrick Peterson and the injury to Robert Alford. The 31-year old held his own in the 10 matchups he suited up for, but it was clear that his best days were behind him. Brock Sr’s release on December 2nd allowed the Cardinals coaching staff to get a better look at some of the younger cover guys who were hungry for more playing time.
The breakup between the Cards and Terrell Suggs on December 13th was actually a mutual parting of the ways. Arizona had very little use for a 37-year old defender who had been battling injuries and an illness during the preceding weeks. Suggs has
latched on with the Kansas City Chiefs, a club that has a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl championship.
It stands to reason that the Cardinals will add a whole new crop of veterans in the coming months. There are advantages to having a contingent of youngsters, but experienced performers also serve a purpose. Finding a perfect balance should be the goal of Keim and his helpers when the free agency signing period eventually gets underway.