Steve Keim, the general manager of the Arizona Cardinals, is going to be a busy little beaver this offseason. A boatload of personnel decisions lie ahead for the 48-year old executive. Keim will have to deal with an extensive list of unrestricted free agents, and several of the restricted variety as well.
The most significant name among the group of restricted free agents is fan favorite Dennis Gardeck. Arizona’s undersized outside linebacker flashed some impressive skills as a pass-rusher during the 2020 campaign. In limited action, Gardeck registered seven sacks in 14 appearances for the Cards before a late-December knee injury ended his season.
It’s almost a given that Gardeck will be back with the Cardinals next fall. More defensive snaps for the special teams demon in 2021 should also be a certainty. The only dilemma facing Keim and his cohorts will be whether to place a first or a second-round tender on the energetic Gardeck.
Another restricted free agent that Arizona would be smart to retain is inside linebacker Ezekiel Turner. The 24-year old has made a career out of excelling on special teams, and has turned into one of the NFL’s most-productive wedgebusters. Bringing Turner back to the nest should certainly be one of the tasks on Keim’s offseason to-do list.
Trent Sherfield, like Turner, has also made most of his contributions on the Cards special teams unit. The fourth-year wide receiver is a fine pass-catcher as well, as evidenced by the 28 career passes he has hauled in for the Cardinals offense. Sherfield’s all-around talents should be enough to keep the wideout in the desert for at least another campaign.
Three other restricted free agents that Arizona’s management will need to make a call on include outside linebacker Kylie Fitts, cornerback Kevin Peterson and outside linebacker Vontarrius Dora. The next few months will be extremely challenging for the Cards hierarchy. Deciding which of their players are deserving of a new contract will be just one part of the difficult job that lies ahead.