A severe lack of talent at the defensive tackle spot should be the main concern of the Arizona Cardinals front office in 2024.
Take one look at the current Arizona Cardinals roster, and you''ll notice that the team needs to make major improvements in several areas. Unlike his predecessor, first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort has had no interest in a quick fix. Next offseason should be a different story, however, when the Cards will have enough salary-cap space to pique the interest of several of the NFL's top free-agent options.
One particular segment of the squad that is going to need Ossenfort's help is the defensive tackle position. At the moment, Arizona possesses the most unimpressive front wall in professional football. In fact, the talent-level at the spot hasn't been this poor for the Redbirds in quite some time.
Ourlads.com, the well-respected website, lists Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence as the current starters. Any Cardinals enthusiasts out there who had enough of these two, raise your hands. Uninspiring alternatives such as Carlos Watkins, Kevin Strong, and sixth-round draft pick Dante Stills won't send fans running to the box office either.
One defensive tackle who could generate excitement among the "Red Sea" is Chris Jones, a four-time Pro Bowler from the Kansas City Chiefs. The 28-year-old stud is entering the final year of an $80 million contract he signed back in 2020. Jones will certainly be expensive, but his 65 career sacks and two Super Bowl rings would make him a valuable addition to the Cards defensive line.
Arizona Cardinals have several options at defensive line in 2024
While not as prolific as Jones, veteran D.J. Reader would provide Arizona with the run-stuffing presence they so desperately need up front. At 6 foot 3, 347 pounds, the 28-year-old is pretty much an unmovable force in the middle of whichever line he's a part of. Reader has just one season left on the four-year, $53 million deal he inked with the Cincinnati Bengals back in '20.
Grover Stewart, a 29-year-old from the Indianapolis Colts, may not have the name recognition of some of his fellow free-agent defenders. Nevertheless, the 6 foot 4, 315 pounder totaled an impressive 70 tackles, four sacks and three passes defensed for the Colts front line last fall. Stewart would likely demand less money than some of the other D-linemen on the market, but the payoff could turn out to be just as enormous for the Cardinals defense.
One more defensive tackle worth mentioning is Sheldon Rankins, a 29-year-old who just signed a one-year, $9.75 million contract with the Houston Texans back in March. In 94 career appearances (51 starts), the Georgia native has amassed 191 tackles, 23.5 sacks and 58 quarterback hits in stints with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets. After passing on Rankins a few months back, Arizona's management will have another opportunity to land the former first-round choice in 2024.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)