Arizona Cardinals have difficult decisions to make in 2021
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals front office will be dealing with an intriguing group of free agents when the 2021 offseason rolls around
The Arizona Cardinals have collected rave reviews for what they have accomplished thus far in 2020. A bevy of solid additions by the club’s front office have many NFL observers predicting a postseason appearance for Kliff Kingsbury‘s squad. A trip to the playoffs would be quite a feat for a Cardinals group that won just five games in 2019.
But while hordes of Cards fans anxiously await the upcoming season, general manager Steve Keim could very well be looking ahead to next year. The organization’s hierarchy, thanks to an extensive list of free agents, will have some incredibly-difficult choices to make in 2021. In fact, the decisions made by Keim and company next offseason could have a significant impact on the future of the franchise.
Topping that list for Arizona is superstar cornerback Patrick Peterson. After eight sparkling campaigns to begin his career, the eight-time Pro Bowler had a season to forget last fall. Peterson will be looking to put a humiliating suspension and some inconsistent play behind him, in the hopes of convincing the Cardinals that he’s worth the lucrative new contract he’ll be seeking in ’21.
Another player that the Cards will need to take care of financially is safety Budda Baker. In just three years as a professional, the team’s 2017 second-round draft pick already has two Pro Bowl appearances under his belt. Baker will earn a base salary of just $1.4 million this fall, a figure that should increase significantly after he signs his new deal with Arizona.
The addition of running back Kenyan Drake last October elevated the Cardinals offense to a higher level. This past March, the former Miami Dolphins draft selection signed a one-year tender offer from the Cards that will pay him $8.4 million in ’20. Big things are expected from Drake this season, which could ultimately lead to a multi-year contract for the explosive ball-carrier.
What would an Arizona offseason be without a negotiation with the great Larry Fitzgerald? It appears that the future Hall of Famer will continue to play for as long as he wants. Whether the upcoming campaign will be Fitzgerald’s last or not could depend largely on what he’s able to accomplish as a 37-year old veteran.
Other prospective Cards free agents in ’21 include Corey Peters, J.R. Sweezy, Zane Gonzalez and Andy Lee. There are quite a few others on the list as well. Let’s hope that Keim and his cohorts have a plan for the future that’ll keep Arizona in contention for years to come.