Arizona Cardinals defensive line could be historically bad in 2023
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals are showing very little urgency in putting together a defensive line that can hold up against the NFL's best scoring attacks.
With each passing day, the outlook for the 2023 Arizona Cardinals is looking increasingly grim. While the rest of the league is working to improve their rosters through free agency, general manager Monti Ossenfort seems content on doing basically nothing.
One area of the Cardinals that is shaping up to be exceptionally poor next fall is the squad's defensive line. Both J.J. Watt and Zach Allen, the group's two standout studs from last season, have moved on. Replacements are needed, but Arizona doesn't seem to be in any hurry to address what appears to be turning into a dire situation.
Making the dilemma even more pronounced is the fact that new Cards head coach Jonathan Gannon will be implementing a 4-3 defense in the desert. Doing so will require adding more defenders to the front wall of the unit. There's a difficult task at hand, so what in the world is Ossenfort and the rest of the front office waiting for?
The switch to the 4-3 alignment will mean a change in position for a couple of the Cardinals' young linebackers. Both Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders will presumably be making the move to defensive end. At 270 pounds, Thomas should do just fine with the transition, but Sanders could need to bulk up a bit from the 255 pounds he weighed last year as a rookie.
Arizona Cardinals defensive line could use an influx of talent in 2023
Arizona really should consider cutting ties with Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence at the defensive tackle spots. In 45 career games (12 starts), Fotu has been credited with just 61 tackles and one measly sack. Lawrence, on the other hand, has suited up for just 25 out of a possible 50 professional contests due to an assortment of injuries.
Last week, Ossenfort added a free agent he was familiar with from the time he spent with the Tennessee Titans. Kevin Strong, a 6 foot 4, 295 pound backup, was brought in to bolster the Redbirds' defensive line depth. The 26-year-old, a former undrafted free agent who has just two starts on his pro resume, was signed to a one-year contract by the Cards.
A few other options for the Cardinals defensive line include Jonathan Ledbetter, Manny Jones and Victor Dimukeje. Like Thomas and Sanders, the 6 foot 2, 265 pound Dimukeje will also be transitioning from the outside linebacker slot.
If Ossenfort would only wake up, there's still time to remedy the distressing lack of bona fide talent on the D-line. Some available free agents include A'Shawn Robinson, Poona Ford, Derrick Nnadi, Shelby Harris, Rasheem Green, and Shaq Lawson.
It's becoming increasingly obvious that Arizona won't be contending for a playoff spot this year. Even so, Ossenfort must start making acquisitions if the team hopes to at least be competitive. A couple of reinforcements for a currently-depleted defensive front would be a logical place to start.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)