Plenty of experienced free-agent help available if Arizona Cardinals want it
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals can put the finishing touches on the offseason by adding a few of the NFL's elder statesmen to the 2023 roster.
With the start of training camp now just around the corner, it's time for Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort to put the finishing touches on the 2023 roster. As improbable as it may seem, there's still plenty of talent remaining on the free agent market. Quite a few of the unemployed players are a bit "long in the tooth", but there's no reason to believe that the Cards couldn't squeeze a productive year or two out of several of the remaining individuals.
Near the top of that list is Justin Houston, a 34-year-old who could help improve what could potentially be a less-than-stellar Cardinals pass rush this coming season. During the 14 games (one start) he suited up for last fall, the 6 foot 3, 270 pound Houston totaled 9.5 sacks and 17 quarterback hits for the Baltimore Ravens. Besides what he's capable of accomplishing on the field, the four-time Pro Bowler could also act as an outstanding mentor for Arizona's young edge-rushers.
When veteran Ben Jones was released by the Tennessee Titans back in March, many observers believed the Redbirds would be reaching out to the 33-year-old center. After all, Ossenfort was the Director of player personnel for the Titans for the past three years while Jones was anchoring the squad's offensive line. It's a bit perplexing that the Cards are showing zero interest in a veteran pivot who is fresh off of the first Pro Bowl appearance of his NFL career.
Arizona Cardinals could kick the tires on a few players who have been around the block a time or two
The Cardinals defense struggled badly versus the run last year, and two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Linval Joseph could help them be a whole lot better in that department. The 34-year-old did an admirable job for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022 after joining the Super Bowl-bound club last November. Jones would bring both size (6 foot 4, 330 pounds) and experience to a "Big Red" front wall that is in dire need of both.
There's been some talk about first-round draft pick Paris Johnson Jr. starting at left guard in '23, but free agent Rodger Saffold would be a much more natural solution for the position. The 34-year-old is a two-time Pro Bowler who has spent time with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, Titans and Buffalo Bills. A starting blocking unit consisting of D.J. Humphries, Saffold, Jones, Will Hernandez and Kelvin Beachum could serve the Arizona scoring attack well this coming fall.
One more free agent worth mentioning is Carlos Dunlap, a 34-year-old defensive end who could apply pressure from the edge for coordinator Nick Rallis' newly-implemented unit. In 197 career contests (125 starts), the 6 foot 6, 277 pounder racked up 578 tackles, 100 sacks, 22 forced fumbles, two interceptions and two touchdowns since he entered the league with the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2010 . Dunlap could help the Cards offset the losses of J.J. Watt and Zach Allen, a pair of valuable defenders who have moved on from the team.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference)