DeAndre Hopkins will be serving a suspension when the Arizona Cardinals take on three NFL powerhouses to start the 2022 campaign.
The current offseason has been a frustrating one for fans of the Arizona Cardinals. General manager Steve Keim and his cohorts have mostly sat on their hands, doing very little while many other clubs improved their rosters with the best available talent.
On Thursday, the league released the long-awaited schedule. The “Red Sea” braced themselves, knowing that star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will serve a six-game suspension at the beginning of the campaign. Was there any chance that the schedule-makers could show mercy and allow the Cards to take on a cupcake or two during the first month of the season?
The NFL’s front office did Arizona no such favors. Kliff Kingsbury’s squad will face the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Los Angeles Rams during the first three weeks of 2022. With no Hopkins in the lineup, the Redbirds could very well be looking at an 0-3 start this coming fall.
It didn’t have to be this way. There were Pro Bowl players available during the last couple of months, but Keim sat idly by while many talented players found new homes. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was certainly a fine acquisition, but the speedy wideout won’t be nearly enough.
There’s still time for the Arizona Cardinals to improve before this year’s opener
The daunting slate of games in 2022 should be enough to motivate the Cardinals to go out and acquire some free-agent assistance. Salary-cap space is limited at the moment, but there are ways to create room.
Keim has been hinting about a summertime contract extension for quarterback Kyler Murray, so why not do it now? Left tackle D.J. Humphries is carrying an outrageous cap hit of $19.3 million for the upcoming season, a number that could be lowered significantly with a reworking of his deal. Those two moves alone could give Arizona some much-needed money to work with.
There are plenty of free agents still remaining on the open market who could make the Cards a better football team. On offense, the likes of Julio Jones, Cole Beasley, David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay, Danny Amendola, and Darrel Williams are still seeking employment.
It’s obvious that the Cardinals’ main needs are on defense, and there are an array of options who can assist in that department. One of the biggest holes is at cornerback, and individuals like James Bradberry, Joe Haden, Xavier Rhodes, and Kyle Fuller would all be solid additions.
“Big Red” could use a run-stuffing nose tackle as well. Ndamukong Suh, Brandon Williams, Akiem Hicks, and Linval Joseph are intriguing possibilities.
Keim and company have to realize that the Cards are far from a finished product. There are very few easy wins this year, and their September schedule is just plain brutal. If they don’t make a few improvements by the opening weekend, Arizona’s season could be over shortly after it begins.