Three years ago, the Arizona Cardinals added a defensive tackle out of the University of Utah with one of the club's two fourth-round draft picks. The squad needed help stopping the run, and there was hope that the 114th-overall selection could assist the Redbirds defense with that particular problem.
Unfortunately, Leki Fotu has been a colossal disappointment. In his three campaigns with Arizona, the former Ute has appeared in 45 games, and has been credited with 12 starts. Fotu has racked up just 61 tackles during that time, and has one measly quarterback sack on his NFL resume.
The startling lack of production didn't stop the Cardinals from listing Fotu as a starter on the team's first official depth chart of 2023. Surely, the first-year coaching staff is looking at the 6 foot 5, 330 pounder with rose-colored glasses. Is defensive coordinator Nick Rallis really willing to have Fotu out there with the first-string unit when the season gets underway on September 10th?
The Cards can do a whole lot better at the nose tackle position than the painfully-mediocre Fotu. The 24-year-old, at best, has proven to be nothing more than backup material. Frankly, it wouldn't be surprising in the least if Fotu fails to make it past final cuts on August 29th.
Arizona Cardinals did very little to improve the defensive line during the 2023 offseason
It's fairly obvious that Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort could care less about wins and losses in '23. According to Spotrac.com, the team has over $23 million in unused salary-cap space at the present time. At least a portion of that cash could've been used to improve the talent-level at the nose tackle spot.
The defensive-tackle candidates sitting behind Fotu on the Cardinals depth chart aren't much better. Rashard Lawrence, a 24-year-old who was chosen 17 slots after Fotu back in 2020, has been ravaged by injuries. Free-agent addition Kevin Strong has totaled just 49 tackles and one sack since he entered the league with the Detroit Lions back in 2019.
There are several veteran defensive tackles on the open market who are still seeking employment. In spite of their advanced age, Ndamukong Suh, Linval Joseph, and Akiem Hicks could still be viable contributors. It's hard to argue with the assertion that any one of the three would be a better option than Fotu for the Cards undermanned defensive line.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)