Hole at left guard needs to be addressed by the Arizona Cardinals

The departure of veteran Justin Pugh has left the Arizona Cardinals with a vacancy at the left guard position.
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Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Over the past five campaigns, 32-year-old Justin Pugh has been credited with 119 starts for the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. After flocking to the desert back in 2018, the former New York Giants draft selection has spent most of his time at left guard. Change is running rampant in Arizona, however, and it appears that Pugh's time with the Redbirds has come to an end.

The beginning of training camp is now just a couple of weeks away, and the club has yet to name a replacement for Pugh. There's been some talk about Paris Johnson Jr. taking over at guard for the departed veteran, but the youngster's future is undoubtedly at left tackle. Does the first-year coaching staff really want to start the 22-year-old Johnson out at a position that he wasn't drafted to play?

If Ossenfort would only look, there are free-agent options who'd be a much more natural solution for the vacancy at left guard. The following three veterans are still available, and are more than capable of handling the job for the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals have three interesting free agents to choose from if they want to fill the hole at left guard

Dalton Risner, a 27-year-old who has spent his entire pro career with the Denver Broncos, is probably the most intriguing candidate. Over the past four seasons, the 6 foot 5, 312 pounder has logged 62 starts for the Broncos offense. The fact that the talented Risner is still seeking employment during the second week of July is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Another free agent who the Cards should kick the tires on is Gabe Jackson, a 10th-year pro who started 31 games for the Seattle Seahawks over the past two years. Originally drafted by the Oakland Raiders back in 2014, the 6 foot 3, 335 pounder registered 99 starts during his seven campaigns with that franchise. If Ossenfort is seeking year-in, year-out consistency at the position, the 31-year-old Jackson should certainly be on Arizona's radar.

One last player who the Cardinals should take a look at is Rodger Saffold, a 35-year-old blocker who the organization knows real well from his nine seasons with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. Incredibly, the 6 foot 5, 325 pound free agent didn't get invited to the Pro Bowl until he left the Rams. Saffold received the honor as a member of the Tennessee Titans back in 2021, and once again for his work with the Buffalo Bills last fall.


(Information provided by Pro Football Reference)