Arizona Cardinals didn't have to wave white flag on 2023 campaign
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals have made it clear that they have no intention of contending for a playoff spot in 2023.
Over the past three weeks, something has become perfectly clear about the Arizona Cardinals. While dozens of top-tier free agents found homes around the NFL, first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort has been bottom feeding. The Cards have added a bevy of players, none of which are talented enough to help the squad return to the postseason next season.
Arizona, essentially, has waved the white flag on the 2023 campaign. An improvement on last fall's 4-13 record should not be expected. What's frustrating about the entire situation is that it didn't have to be this way for our beloved Redbirds.
New head coach Jonathan Gannon has basically been handed a mulligan. That didn't have to be the case, being that newly-hired NFL coaches managed to find success early on in the past. Gannon is basically being told by Ossenfort and company that winning isn't the top goal in year number one.
Of course, the injury to quarterback Kyler Murray allowed the Cards to feel justified in simply mailing it in this offseason. Recent reports indicate, however, that the two-time Pro Bowler could be back sooner than expected. At the very least, Ossenfort could've acquired a more competent signal-caller to hold down the offensive fort while Murray is sidelined.
Arizona Cardinals possessed enough salary-cap space to add several difference-making free agents
Arizona had upwards of $30 million in salary-cap space to utilize early on in free agency. For example, veteran passer Marcus Mariota will earn just $5 million next fall after inking a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The 29-year-old could've served as an excellent stand-in for a Cardinals scoring attack that still contains standout weapons like DeAndre Hopkins, James Conner, Zach Ertz and Marquise Brown.
Speaking of Hopkins, why would the Cards part ways with their best player? Sure, the five-time Pro Bowler's $30.75 million cap hit in '23 is a bit steep. That charge could've been lowered, however, if Ossenfort and Hopkins would've sat down and agreed to restructure the contract.
The $30 million under the cap that Arizona was once armed with could've been utilized to build a playoff-caliber roster. Free agents such as Garrett Bradbury, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike McGlinchey, Ben Powers and Devin Singletary would've been outstanding additions on offense. Others such as Javon Hargrave, James Bradberry, Marcus Davenport, Tremaine Edmunds and Dre'Mont Jones would've been fantastic on the defensive side of the ball.
The current version of the Cards is in rebuilding mode. However, a complete overhaul of the roster is no longer necessary. In the age of free agency and trades, a "worst to first" scenario could be just three or four key acquisitions away.
Instead, Cardinals fans have nothing to look forward to. Many experts are already predicting another awful campaign for the talent-starved squad. All things considered, Ossenfort didn't have to pull the plug on a season that is still five months away.
(Salary information provided by Spotrac.com)