Arizona Cardinals safety’s stellar play in 2023 earns special recognition

While Trey McBride has taken the NFL by storm, so has a player on the Arizona Cardinals defense, and Jalen Thompson also deserves top-notch recognition.
Nov 19, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson (34) reacts after making
Nov 19, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson (34) reacts after making / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Thompson has been nothing short of incredible for the Arizona Cardinals this season. We have recognized him often in previous pieces, and now, just like teammate Trey McBride, Thompson is garnering recognition throughout the NFL universe, with PFF serving as the latest outlet. 

Two days ago, Gordon McGuinness ranked “the most valuable safeties” in the NFL, and Thompson didn’t just reach the Top 10 in the category. Instead, the 25-year-old landed in fourth place, behind Kyle Hamilton, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Jabrill Peppers. Here is what McGuinness said about Thompson in their piece:

"“An undrafted free agent back in 2019, Thompson is on pace to earn a career-high PFF grade. He moves around the defensive backfield for the Cardinals but has lined up in the box or the slot on 543 of his 711 defensive snaps this season.”"

Gordon McGuinness

Source: Ranking the NFL's 10 most valuable safeties of the 2023 season 

Arizona Cardinals safety rightfully earns Top 5 recognition

Thompson was actually drafted in the fifth round of that season’s supplemental draft, but the rest of McGuinness’ quote was spot-on. Thompson has more than just proven his worth this season at the position; it’s clear that he’s become the top safety on a team that has a man named Budda Baker, who unfortunately hasn’t looked as sharp in 2023. 

So what’s next for Thompson in his future with the Cardinals? He’s signed through 2026, and if he has another year like he’s experienced so far in 2023, expect general manager Monti Ossenfort to prioritize signing Thompson to a long-term deal that will keep the former fifth-round pick in the desert until he is well into his 30’s. 

The 2023 season was all about identifying young talent that could help the Arizona Cardinals in the future, and it’s clear Thompson has proven himself as one of those players. Until 2023, he posted great numbers, but they still fell short of elite, but that has, through the first 13 games of the season, changed.