Another day, another guarantee that you’ll hear yet another naysayer hop on the bandwagon of bashing the Arizona Cardinals lack of moves in the 2023 offseason.
It’s astounding on the sheer number of those who follow the NFL who hang onto the narrative that the offseason is no different from Franchise Mode on a Madden NFL game. If that were the case, then there would be a one-size fits all approach-sign as many high-quality free agents as your salary cap allows, make a couple of blockbuster trades, and compete for a Super Bowl.
In real life, this isn’t how things work, and Monti Ossenfort realized that more in a single offseason than former general manager Steve Keim did in ten. That’s why Ossenfort is sitting in Keim’s seat these days.
But that didn’t stop Mike Jones of The Athletic from naming the Arizona Cardinals as one of their “losers” during the offseason. Among their complaints was the fact they hired Jonathan Gannon (whose defense was one of the NFL’s best in 2022, and I don’t care how soft the scheme supposedly was. It worked).
They also stated that Kyler Murray’s knee injury and subsequent rehab was another loss. But the last I checked, that injury occurred in December, not in the offseason, so I’m not entirely sure how this fits anything besides trying to fuel a narrative, especially since Murray has, for once, looked like the attentive leader he needs to be, even if he’s not cleared to play.
There was also the claim that DeAndre Hopkins “forced” the Cardinals hand. Maybe he did, but the fact is, unless The Athletic has information the rest of us don’t know about, we have no idea of what was going on behind the scenes regarding Hopkins’ ultimate release.
Yet another outlet labels Arizona Cardinals a ‘loser’
What did Jones overlook or fail to consider? We can start with the fact the Cards actually worked their way toward building an identity on offense, which explains why they added layer after layer to their offensive line. They also drafted a mobile quarterback in Clayton Tune, who could easily end up filling in for Murray for a portion of the regular season.
What about their dynamic draft? Not only did Ossenfort pull off a successful draft; he set the stage for 2024, tailoring things so the draft runs through the desert (even if it’s technically taking place elsewhere).
Overall, the claim that the Cards lost the offseason is nothing short of erroneous. No, Ossenfort didn’t construct a roster capable of making the playoffs, but that, thankfully, wasn’t his intention.
Any general manager is capable of doing that while sacrificing the window of success. Just ask Steve Keim how “well” that strategy worked out for him.
Again, Ossenfort was wise enough to realize this, so he worked diligently to shift the Redbirds from a team who mainly relied on older, more established talent to one who will build and rely on homegrown talent. And that’s the right view to take.
Source: NFL 2023 offseason winners and losers: Aaron Rodgers is happy, but AFC test will be tough by Mike Jones, TheAthletic.com