The front office of the Arizona Cardinals has done an outstanding job of managing the salary cap this offseason. Kudos to general manager Steve Keim for adding a significant influx of talent with the limited amount of funds he had to work with. The Cards are taking full advantage of Kyler Murray’s rookie agreement, realizing that the quarterback’s next contract will make it much more difficult to place high-priced pieces around him.
Next year, Arizona will have a whole new salary-cap situation to deal with. If the club needs to create space under the NFL’s allocated limit, there are certainly ways to accomplish that task. The following are a group of players who could provide the greatest amount of monetary relief as cap casualties in 2022.
While D.J. Humphries is coming off of a fantastic performance in 2020, there’s no guarantee that the starting left tackle will perform that well again next fall. If the 27-year old falters in 2021, the Cardinals could move on from the veteran next offseason without leaving a large amount of dead salary-cap money ($4.330 million) behind. By parting ways with Humphries, the organization would recoup a tempting $13.75 million in cap room in ’22.
Staying with the offensive line, there’s another blocker who could find himself on thin ice with the franchise next year. Left guard Justin Pugh, who accepted a pay cut to remain with the squad in ’21, would leave just $2 million in dead cash next season. The Cards, in turn, would gain $10.025 million in cap space by handing the 30-year old his walking papers next offseason.
One of Arizona’s biggest disappointments last fall was Jordan Phillips, a free agent pickup from the Buffalo Bills. Management handed the defensive tackle a three-year, $30 million contract, and were handed just 11 tackles and two sacks from the 28-year old in return. The team would add $8 million to their 2022 salary-cap total by releasing Phillips, leaving just $4 million in dead money behind.
Jordan Hicks, like Pugh, also agreed to a pay cut to remain with the Cardinals in ’21. Big Red could save $6 million by moving on from the 28-year old linebacker next offseason. The club would eat $3 million in dead cash by cutting Hicks in ’22.
One last move that the Cards could make next year also involves a linebacker. Keim and company would gain $6 million in cap room by parting ways with Devon Kennard, another disappointing free agent acquisition from the 2020 offseason. The 29-year old, who contributed just 19 tackles and three sacks last fall, would leave $2.5 million in dead funds behind if he’s released in ’22.