An affordable edge rusher would be a nice finishing touch to what has been an outstanding offseason for the Arizona Cardinals
You have to hand it to the front office of the Arizona Cardinals. The organization entered the current offseason with a plethora of needs, most of which have been filled by the club’s hierarchy. Cards general manager Steve Keim and company certainly deserve kudos for the work they have done, but there’s one more area of the roster that could use their attention.
While starting edge rushers Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard are more than capable of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the depth behind them could use an upgrade. Arizona’s number-one backup at the spot, Haason Reddick, has very little experience at the outside linebacker post. Others such as Vontarrius Dora, Kylie Fitts and Reggie Walker have accomplished virtually nothing at the professional level.
The question marks at the position could propel the Cardinals to make a move. A lack of salary-cap space (roughly $7 million according to Spotrac.com), however, could make doing something to address the problem a bit challenging. Perhaps Keim can pull off one of his one-year “prove-it” deals that have worked so well for the Cards in the past.
One player who could fit that criteria is Clay Matthews, the longtime member of the Green Bay Packers who remains unemployed. The six-time Pro Bowler signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Rams last year, but was cut by the team this past March. The 34-year old Matthews has registered 91.5 sacks during his NFL career, including eight in 13 starts for the Rams in 2019.
Another player still looking for work is Ezekiel Ansah, the fifth-overall pick of the Detroit Lions back in 2013. The 31-year old spent one injury-filled campaign with the Seattle Seahawks last season, recording just 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 11 appearances for the squad. Despite the disappointing performance, Ansah’s 50.5 career sacks as a pro could make the veteran an attractive reclamation project for the Arizona defensive unit.
Cameron Wake, a 38-year old who spent most of his time in the league with the Miami Dolphins, is one more free agent worth mentioning. The five-time Pro Bowler spent last year with the Tennessee Titans, after racking up 98 sacks in 146 career appearances (126 starts) for the Dolphins. Wake would bring plenty of experience, likely at a reasonable price, to a Cardinals outside linebacking group that so desperately lacks it at the current time.