Arizona Cardinals: Why Monti Ossenfort chose not to spend big in free agency

Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort speaks to the
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort speaks to the / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort enjoyed an epic first NFL Draft. But his lack of making flashy moves in free agency made this offseason tick.

Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort entered the NFL Draft staring down ire in the eyes of many fans. He had more cap space than most NFL teams, so many expected him to make splashy moves throughout the second half of March 2023. 

Only he basically signed role players, special teams aces, cast-offs, and career backups. And in every aspect, they were all the right moves

Yesterday, I compared Ossenfort to Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams, stating the two, despite heading up teams in different sports leagues, adopted the same blueprint. Neither general manager is splashy in free agency, at least in the early going of their respective teams’ rebuild. 

Plus, as with what Adams dealt with in Buffalo, Ossenfort has several players whose futures are up in the air early in his tenure as general manager. What’s going on with Budda Baker and DeAndre Hopkins, even if it looks like the latter wants to say? Where’s Kyler Murray in terms of his overall rehab? The questions are endless. 

Ditto for Adams when the tumultuous 2020-21 season ended in Buffalo, mere months before he sent Rasmus Ristolainen, Sam Reinhart, and most notably, Jack Eichel out of town for younger talent and draft picks. 

Monti Ossenfort realized something few fans and experts did not

Going into this thing, Ossenfort knew there was no way he was going to fix the Arizona Cardinals in a year, or perhaps even two years. And if he wanted to build long-term success, there was no point in signing big names who probably don’t have five decent years remaining, if even that. 

Sure, Javon Hargrave and James Bradberry would’ve been great, but they’re on the wrong side of 30. Ditto for players approaching 30. Unless Ossenfort wanted to make the same mistake Steve Keim made and sacrifice draft picks for established talent, only to win one playoff game in 10 seasons, with one division title, it made zero sense. 

Keim tried the method and he failed. To be honest, the guy overstayed his welcome, and there was no way owner Michael Bidwill would make the same mistake twice in keeping a general manager on board if they built teams with short windows of success; teams that missed the playoffs in seven out of 10 seasons with Keim running the show. 

Sure, the fans wanted to see splashes. That’s natural. Pundits knew Ossenfort’s lack of moves, plus many fans’ negative reactions to them, would make for key talking points and it gave them something to write about. But Ossenfort was logical enough to look past it and focus on what mattered. 

In his early days as Sabres general manager, Adams received a boatload of criticism. These days, those critics are no longer talking. You can expect the same results with Ossenfort, assuming he can draft better than his predecessor. And in immediate hindsight, the latter seems to be the case. 

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Source: What is behind the Cardinals’ quiet start to free agency? by Arizona Sports,