March 18th is the start of the new league year for the Arizona Cardinals and the rest of the NFL
If the Arizona Cardinals want to build off their 2019 season, here are 3 free agents General Manager Steve Keim should have on his shopping list to bolster his 32nd-ranked defense. They should have some money to spend to attract quality talent.
Chris Jones, 3-4 DE (Kansas City Chiefs)
Just 27 years old, interior defensive lineman Chris Jones has established himself as one of the best in the NFL at his position. He finished the regular season with 58 total pressures, while also becoming a force in stopping the run. His 2019 season was graded at 84.9, according to Pro Football Focus, ranking him 6th best at the position.
Jones would be a godsend for a defense that struggled mightily against the run in 2019. Giving up 120.1 yards per game, the Redbirds finished with the 24th ranked run defense in the league.
The lack of pressure in the middle also hindered their ability to get off the field on third down. Having a strong interior line will allow the back end to hold up in coverage and fly to the ball. Jones can certainly provide that.
Anthony Harris, S (Minnesota Vikings)
The 6-foot-1, 202 pounder out of Virginia is a quiet playmaker. Over the last two seasons, he’s had nine interceptions and 7 pass breakups while playing the majority of his snaps at free safety. In 2019, he finished the season with a 91.6 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. On top of the stellar coverage skills on the backend, of the last 100 tackles attempts, he’s only whiffed on four. Yeoman’s work for a 28-year-old.
With much needed help opposite Budda Baker, Harris would fit in perfectly patrolling center field while Baker is able to roam free in and out of the box. It also would help alleviate the problem of tight ends running rampant on the Cardinals’ defense — a problem that never went away in 2019.
Corey Littleton, ILB (Los Angeles Rams)
The NFC West, over the years, has been home to some of the best defensive players in the NFL. Corey Littleton is no exception. During his four-year career with the Rams, Littleton has put up gaudy numbers. He’s amassed 8.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries, 315 combines tackles and 20 tackles for loss. Numbers that could certainly help a position in need.
He’s remained one of the most consistent linebackers in football, and at only 26-years-old, some could agree that his best years are still ahead of him. But locking a top-notch, coverage linebacker in the NFL is no easy feat.
What will the price be? And will the Cardinals be willing to pay, for any of these players?
Some progress was made in 2019, but if the Cardinals actually want to compete, they’ll need to do what it takes to sign one, of not all these players, and actually play some meaningful football in the desert for the first time in a long time.