Cardinals can still use free agency to acquire edge-rusher

(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) Jason Pierre-Paul
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) Jason Pierre-Paul /

The Arizona Cardinals can still look to land a free agent pass-rusher who can help the team offset the loss of Chandler Jones.

Almost three weeks have passed since the start of free agency, and the Arizona Cardinals front office still has several holes to fill.

One of the Cards’ most-glaring needs is at edge-rusher, a position that was weakened severely by the loss of Chandler Jones. Sack-specialist Markus Golden is still a part of the squad, but other outside linebackers like Devon Kennard, Dennis Gardeck, and Victor Dimukeje are better suited for backup roles.

The return of J.J. Watt, Arizona‘s star defensive end who missed 10 games in 2021 with an injured shoulder, will certainly help. On the other hand, Watt has not tallied double-digit sacks since 2018, when he registered 16 for the Houston Texans defense.

Since the NFL’s “legal tampering” period began back on March 14th, the Cardinals’ personnel department has failed to address the squad’s pass-rushing issue. In addition to allowing Jones to leave town, general manager Steve Keim also took a pass on studs such as Von Miller, Haason Reddick, Randy Gregory, and Za’Darius Smith.

Arizona Cardinals still have several free-agent sack specialists to choose from 

Fortunately for the Redbirds, there are a few capable edge-rushers who are still searching for employment. Keim has a small amount of salary-cap space to work with at the moment, but the executive can free up cash in a variety of ways if he really wants to.

Jadeveon Clowney totaled nine sacks and an eye-popping 19 quarterback hits last fall for the Cleveland Browns. An agreement with the Cards would reunite Clowney and Watt, a duo who played together for five campaigns (2014-18) with the Texans.

A shoulder injury contributed to a disappointing showing by Jason Pierre-Paul last year (just 2.5 sacks), but his previous three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were superb. From 2018 to 2020, the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder racked up 30.5 sacks and 50 quarterback hits for the Bucs.

Mario Addison is no spring chicken at 34 years of age, but the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder still managed to tally seven sacks in limited action for the Buffalo Bills last year. Addison, a former undrafted free agent who turned pro back in 2011, has 67 sacks and 112 quarterback hits on his NFL resume.

Pass-rushing assistance can still be had if the organization wants it. This standing around and accomplishing nothing act is getting old. It’s time for Keim and company to show a sense of urgency and address a need that has suddenly become a pressing one for the Cardinals in 2022.

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