Arizona Cardinals Free Agency Primer: Targets, Timeline, Returning Players
By Sion Fawkes
Free agency is just under a month away for the Arizona Cardinals and the NFL’s other 31 franchises. Here is what you can expect.
The Arizona Cardinals are going to look dramatically different when the 2023 season rolls around. As it stands, they have 32 players slated to become Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA), two Restricted Free Agents (RFA), and three Exclusive Rights Free Agents.
With so much money in cap space, expect the Cardinals to spend some money to retain a few of their own players. Below, we will look at potential talent Arizona may decide to retain, plus unrestricted free agents they should target once free agency opens.
Arizona Cardinals Free Agency 2023 – Who to Re-sign?
The Cardinals will be looking to keep players that they feel can best serve the team under the new regime. They will also look to retain some youth along with those who could provide veteran leadership and still contribute well overall. Here are the pending free agents they should target to retain:
- Zach Allen, DE
- Antonio Hamilton, CB
- Will Hernandez, G
- Byron Murphy Jr., CB
- Ben Niemann, LB
- Maxx Williams, TE
Allen and Murphy Jr. are shoo-ins, while Hamilton, Hernandez, Niemann, and Williams can provide immediate depth. Since linebacker Isaiah Simmons plays multiple positions, a trend that could continue under new defensive coordinator Nick Rallis, Niemann could see extended playing time with the starters.
Who to Target?
With Jonathan Gannon, Nick Rallis, and Drew Petzing aboard, don’t be surprised if the Arizona Cardinals target pending UFAs from the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns. From the Browns, three realistic targets include:
- Ethan Pocic, C
- Jacoby Brissett, QB
- D’Ernest Johnson, RB
The Cards need to build their offensive line, and Pocic could be a great piece to add in at center. Brissett knows Petzing from Cleveland, and he’s been serviceable in each of his previous NFL stops with the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and Miami Dolphins. Johnson was stuck behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, but he could be a legitimate RB2 in the league.
Then there are a few Philadelphia Eagles that the Cardinals could go after. The first names that come to mind are:
- Javon Hargrave, DT
- James Bradberry, CB
- Boston Scott, RB
- T.J. Edwards, LB
Hargrave would be a prize free agent addition, and he could help revamp the Arizona Cardinals defensive line. If Zach Allen re-signs and the Cards sign Hargrave, Arizona will have a dynamic duo up front.
Bradberry could slide in as a cornerback. Whether or not the Cards re-sign Murphy, they still have Marco Wilson, so Bradberry could still form a strong tandem with the third-year Wilson in the desert. Re-signing Murphy would be a bonus, and bringing in Bradberry could allow the Redbirds to form a terrific trio.
If Arizona can’t land a player of Johnson’s caliber, then Scott would be a good option. And finally, if the Cards can’t re-sign Niemann, then T.J. Edwards could find his way to the desert.
The Cards can start negotiating with the aforementioned UFAs on March 13th, and if they agree to terms with them or any UFA that suits their liking, those deals will become official on March 15th at 2 p.m MT.
Once general manager Monti Ossenfort and assistant David Sears sign some talent to hopefully bolster the Cards, we will gain a better idea of what they will do for the NFL Draft when it rolls around on April 27th.
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