Back in March of 2020, the Arizona Cardinals front office made an expensive addition to their defensive tackle group. Jordan Phillips, a veteran from the Buffalo Bills, was inked to a three-year, $30 million contract by the Cards. It was a solid acquisition, made to inject some talent into the front wall of the Arizona defense.
To say that the Cardinals failed to get their money’s worth out of Phillips during the first year of his deal would be an understatement. The 6’6, 341 pounder was hampered by a hamstring injury that sidelined him for seven games last fall. Phillips tallied just 11 tackles and two sacks in nine appearances, but the Cards are hopeful that free-agent pickup’s disappointing campaign was just a mirage.
A month after signing Phillips, Arizona added a pair of defensive tackles during the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Leki Fotu was selected 114th-overall out of the University of Utah. Rashard Lawrence, taken 17 picks later, was a standout performer at LSU.
Fotu appeared in 11 contests for the Cardinals, registering 11 tackles, a sack and three quarterback hits. Lawrence was a bit less productive, tallying nine tackles as a rookie in the nine matchups he dressed for.
The Cards have a group of free agent defensive tackles who may or may not be back with the team in 2021. One of those individuals, Corey Peters, has been with the franchise since 2015. The 32-year old appeared in just nine matchups for the squad last year, thanks to a season-ending knee injury he suffered in week ten.
Other veteran tackles with expiring contracts include Domata Peko and Angelo Blackson. It could benefit Arizona to bring back Peko, who served as a valuable mentor to the club’s younger linemen. Blackson was a solid contributor as well, registering 24 tackles, 2.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits in 16 appearances (nine starts) for the Redbirds.
Some other free-agent possibilities for the position include Jurrell Casey, Ndamukong Suh, DaQuan Jones and Johnathan Hankins. Last Monday’s J.J. Watt signing may prohibit the Cardinals from making any more big-splash additions to the D-line. More affordable options at the spot like Peko and Blackson would make more sense.