Top 3 offseason catastrophes the Arizona Cardinals must avoid
The best way to put your team behind the eight-ball heading into the season is to embrace catastrophe. Here are a few the Arizona Cardinals must avoid.
The Arizona Cardinals need to get this right. For far too long, they’ve resided at the bottom of the NFL’s barrel, sans a few outlying seasons. And during the Steve Keim era, the Redbirds couldn’t draft, they made ill-fated trades, and they spent way too much money on veterans.
The best-case scenario? They would field great teams every now and again. The worst-case? They would experience short-lived success.
This time around, the Cardinals need to set themselves up to succeed for years on end. To do this, they must avoid the following three catastrophes. Let’s look at each in-depth.
1 – Spending big in free agency
While the Arizona Cardinals have ample cap space, they also need to spend their money wisely. This isn’t to say they shouldn’t go after a big-name free agent, but they also shouldn’t go on a spending spree.
They did this in the past, and it never gave them long-term success. Jordan Phillips is one major example here. Following an epic season that saw him record 9.5 sacks, the Cardinals didn’t hesitate to spend big on the defensive tackle in 2020. Yet in two seasons with the team, Phillips saw action in 18 games, recording five sacks, 33 combined tackles, and just four stops behind the line.
2 – Failing to draft team needs
No one was worse in this category than Steve Keim, who seemed to always look for the best player on the board. Or the player he felt was the best. And that’s totally fine, if your team has been winning games.
As for losing or middle-of-the-road teams, drafting the best player available instead of for need is a recipe for, well, what the Arizona Cardinals became: A mediocre team during most of the Keim Era.
New general manager Monti Ossenfort must avoid his predecessor’s mistakes, and fill needs instead of selecting a player at a position of strength. Or taking someone at a position where current players in the lineup can hold things down for another season.
Keim gained notoriety when he drafted seemingly the top player on his board in 2016, taking Robert Nkemdiche. It happened again in 2021 when he selected Zaven Collins, although the Redbirds already had Jordan Hicks.
3 – Trading for aging veterans
Once again, trading for aging veterans could put your team in position to succeed with a one or two-season window. But when you swap draft picks for players in their late 20s or early 30s, you’re just delaying the inevitable fallout.
The Rodney Hudson trade is a good example of this, when Keim sent away a third round pick for the aging center. But even trades for players like Zach Ertz (fifth round pick), Trayvon Mullen (conditional sixth or seventh round pick), and Robbie Anderson (sixth and seventh round pick) could wind up biting the Arizona Cardinals.
Late round picks may or may not earn a spot on the team, but they can at least provide serviceable depth. And that was much-needed depth the Cardinals can use if injuries strike them in the future in the same way they struck in 2022. There is also the possibility that you can uncover a hidden gem or two.
While trading for aging players may not look like a catastrophe in the short term, they will negatively affect the Arizona Cardinals long-term. Case in point, build through the draft and limit the compensation you give up for older players.
(Data provided by Pro-Football-Reference)
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