Marcus Gilbert‘s decision to opt out has created an open competition for the Arizona Cardinals at the right tackle position
Back in March of 2019, the Arizona Cardinals acquired a player who they thought would solidify their right tackle position. Unfortunately, Marcus Gilbert’s stint with the club has been an unmitigated disaster. The veteran tore his ACL just days before last season’s opening matchup, and has now decided to opt out of the Cards upcoming campaign.
Now that Gilbert’s career in the desert appears to be over, the Cardinals must now decide on a replacement for the undependable blocker. Fortunately, the squad has three viable candidates waiting in the wings. It’s now up to offensive line coach Sean Kugler to figure out which one of the trio will be the best man for the job.
At the moment, 27-year old Justin Murray would appear to have the inside track on the starting gig. The 6’5, 315 pounder registered 12 starts for the Cards in ’19 after both Gilbert and Jordan Mills were sidelined with knee ailments. Murray got off to a rough start last year, but played much better as the season wore on.
Back in April, Arizona was thrilled that prospect Josh Jones was still on the board during the third round of the NFL Draft. Many experts had the University of Houston tackle rated as a first-round talent, and had predicted that the youngster would be a starter sooner rather than later. With Gilbert now out of the picture, Jones has a legitimate shot of making those prognostications about him being a first-teamer come to fruition this coming fall.
Three weeks ago, the Cardinals front office raised a few eyebrows when they signed 31-year old Kelvin Beachum to a one-year contract. The acquisition of the 6’3, 308 pounder makes much more sense, now that Gilbert is no longer in the team’s plans for 2020. Beachum could quite possibly take over for the franchise at right tackle, despite the fact that most of his 99 professional starts have come on the left side.
The battle for the Cards starting right tackle gig will be an interesting one. All three of the contestants have a chance of emerging victorious in the competition. May the best man win.