Free-agent options at cornerback are dwindling for the Arizona Cardinals
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals are running out of free-agent options who are capable of replacing departed cornerback Byron Murphy.
Just hours after the start of the NFL's free-agency "tampering" period, the Arizona Cardinals waved goodbye to their number-one cornerback. Surprisingly, Byron Murphy settled for a two-year contract from the Minnesota Vikings that's worth a paltry $17.5 million. Couldn't the Cards have topped that somewhat miniscule offer, and retained the best cover guy on their current roster?
For whatever reason, Arizona's front office elected to move on from the talented Murphy. Now that his expected departure is a done deal, first-year general manager Monti Ossenfort should be moving quickly to replace the 25-year-old corner.
Five days have now passed since Murphy left town, and the Redbirds have yet to sign a cornerback. If the season were to start today, Marco Wilson and Christian Matthew would be the starters at the position. That is a terrifying proposition for Cardinals fans everywhere, to say the least.
There were some viable free-agent cover guys searching for work last week that are no longer available. An experienced corner such as James Bradberry, Jonathan Jones, Jamel Dean or Cameron Sutton would have looked sensational in the Arizona secondary. The fact that the Cards didn't feel an urgency to make a play for at least one of those outstanding players is downright astonishing.
Arizona Cardinals need to put all of the tanking talk to rest with a couple of top-notch acquisitions
Ossenfort's lack of activity since free agency began has prompted some observers to accuse the organization of giving up on the 2023 campaign. That's a depressing thought, especially for those of us who put our heart and soul into the Cardinals every fall. The idea that a franchise wouldn't constantly do everything it can to build a playoff-contending team is incredibly difficult to digest.
Luckily for the franchise, there are still moves that can be made by the personnel department that could put that ugly tanking talk to rest. While it's not outlandish to pencil Wilson in at one of the starting posts, Matthew is certainly not ready for such a lofty promotion. There are a few free-agent cornerbacks remaining, however, who could form a solid duo with Wilson in Arizona's defensive backfield.
Veterans such as Shaq Griffin, William Jackson, Anthony Brown and Eli Apple would all be considered an upgrade over Matthew. Actually, all four would probably be ranked above Wilson as well on the Cards depth chart. Ossenfort needs to act quickly before all of the remaining possibilities are also gobbled up by CB-needy clubs.