Several one-time members of the Arizona Cardinals could eliminate a handful of problem areas if they were still with the team.
Over the past 10 years or so, the word "rebuild" never entered into the minds of the Arizona Cardinals hierarchy. Time after time, former general manager Steve Keim felt it was better to put band-aids on any position that was lacking in talent. Millions of dollars were blown on free agents, but all of that spending never resulted in a Super Bowl championship for the Cards.
While Keim certainly had his moments, Arizona owner Michael Bidwill felt that a new GM was needed to get the team over the hump. Monti Ossenfort, a longtime NFL executive, was brought in to clean up a mess. The transformation has already begun, and many analysts believe that the Redbirds are going to be really bad this coming fall while the housecleaning is taking place.
At the moment, Ossenfort is dealing with a roster that is chock-full of holes. Several of the problem areas weren't adequately addressed by the front office this offseason. The following are five former Cardinals players who could've helped make first-year head coach Jonathan Gannon's squad much more competitive in 2023.
J.J. Watt - Defensive End (Retired)
Many Cards fans were highly disappointed back in December when J.J. Watt announced that the 2022 campaign would be his last. Ironically, the sensational defensive end was fresh off of an outstanding season. Watt was credited with 12.5 sacks, and it's highly unlikely that any member of the current edge-rushing contingent will manage to top that impressive number.
Potential replacements for Watt include the likes of Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders, BJ Ojulari, and L.J. Collier. Thomas and Sanders combined for six sacks in limited action last fall, while Collier has taken opposing quarterbacks down just three times during his four-year professional career. Ojulari is a second-round draft pick who's being counted on to come through in a big way as a rookie for the Arizona defense.
Nevertheless, things would've been much less dire in the desert if Watt could've held off his retirement plans for another year. It's just been announced that the 34-year-old will be working for CBS Sports as a studio analyst, so the chances that he'll change his mind about playing are probably slim. That's a darn shame, because the Cardinals defensive unit could surely use a productive force like Watt in the starting lineup.