The possibility exists that Arizona Cardinals rookie Paris Johnson Jr. could start at right tackle over the aging veteran.
Three months ago, Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort bought the team's offensive line some insurance by bringing an aging veteran back into the fold. There were those who believed that the Cards would be moving on from Kelvin Beachum, but Ossenfort turned around and handed the right tackle a two-year contract extension.
That particular decision was questioned in late April when Arizona landed Ohio State University's Paris Johnson Jr. with the draft's sixth-overall selection. The 21-year-old offensive tackle appears to be NFL-ready, but the team may not have a spot for him in the starting lineup. Left tackle appears to be Johnson's most-natural position, but that post happens to be occupied at the present time by ninth-year pro D.J. Humphries.
While protecting quarterback Kyler Murray's blindside seems to be off of the table at the moment, there's a solid possibility that Johnson could unseat Beachum as the starting right tackle. The move would almost certainly be a temporary one for the youngster, who could play at the post until the Cardinals are ready to cut ties with Humphries. That could actually happen next year, when the 29-year-old Humphries' salary-cap hit grows to a robust $22.9 million.
There have also been discussions about Johnson manning the left guard position, where the Redbirds have yet to name a replacement for free agent Justin Pugh. It may not be prudent, however, for the rookie to get his feet wet at a spot that he won't be occupying in the future. Could Beachum be real in danger of surrendering his job to the extremely talented Johnson?
An argument can be made that Kelvin Beachum should remain the starter at right tackle for the Arizona Cardinals
Beachum has been nothing short of a godsend for the Cards since he arrived in the desert back in 2020. Since the signing, the 6 foot 3, 308 pounder has logged an impressive 48 starts. Last fall, Beachum was the only member of the blocking unit to start in all 17 matchups for the Arizona offense.
Whether the Cardinals would actually demote Beachum in favor of the 21-year-old Johnson remains to be seen. There's a steady presence that an experienced lineman like Beachum can bring to the table. Not to mention the fact that the two-year deal that the Texas native signed will pay him a cool $5.15 million through the 2024 season.
The opposite view is that the 6 foot 6, 310 pound Johnson is just too valuable to keep on the bench. The Cincinnati native was a Consensus All-American in 2022, and was widely considered the 2023 draft's best offensive lineman.
Ossenfort had the offensive line's best interests in mind back in March when he brought Beachum back into the mix. Circumstances have since changed, thanks to the acquisition of the outstanding former Buckeye. One thing's for certain, the Cardinals didn't bring the ready and willing Johnson to the desert to be a backup.