Several players have excelled since they moved on from the Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals would've been much better off if they had retained several of the veterans they cut ties with in 2023.

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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A strong argument can be made that the Arizona Cardinals have become the laughingstock of the NFL. That dreadful performance by head coach Jonathan Gannon's crew on Christmas Eve against the equally putrid Chicago Bears was tough to watch. Thankfully, this ugly campaign is almost over, and the Cards front office will now have to jump through hoops just to get the fanbase interested again.

Actually, Arizona's embarrassing 3-12 record isn't surprising in the least. General manager Monti Ossenfort chose to stand idly by while the rest of the league got better through free agency. Owner Michael Bidwill reverted back to the frugal ways of his late father Bill, basically giving up on a season months before it got underway.

It's one thing not to bring in veterans from the outside. But when a franchise elects to cut ties with capable starters in addition, the "Birdgang" was really left with no hope.

At the moment, the Redbirds possess the worst wide receivers group in professional football. Greg Dortch, a former undrafted free agent, is arguably the club's most-reliable wideout. That's pretty sad when you consider that the 5 foot 7,175 pound Dortch would be no better than a number-three receiver on just about every other squad's depth chart.

Meanwhile, the Cards were too cheap to pay DeAndre Hopkins, a five-time Pro Bowler who's enjoying a productive campaign with the Tennessee Titans. In 15 starts, the 31-year-old has hauled in 61 passes for 939 yards and six touchdowns. Quarterback Kyler Murray, and the entire Arizona scoring attack for that matter, would be so much better off if Hopkins was still in the fold.

Arizona Cardinals would be smart to keep valuable players on the payroll from here on out

On Tuesday, Arizona handed cornerback Marco Wilson his walking papers. The 25-year-old began the season as the organization's top cover guy, but was benched a few weeks ago because he was flat-out awful. Ironically, Wilson was supposed to fill the shoes of the Cardinals' most capable corner from a year ago, a former second-round draft choice who the club obviously believed they could do without.

In 14 starts for the Minnesota Vikings this fall, Byron Murphy Jr. has racked up 57 tackles, three interceptions and a whopping 13 passes defensed. With the free-agent defector still in the mix, the Cards secondary could've been a lot more formidable. Even without a ton of salary-cap space at his disposal, Ossenfort could've certainly matched the reasonable two-year, $17.5 million contract that Murphy inked with the Vikings.

While the wide receiver and cornerback positions are definitely weaknesses, it's the Arizona defensive line that could really use an infusion of talent. That segment of the defense was actually a strength in 2022, when both J.J. Watt and Zach Allen were in the starting lineup. Watt's retirement took him out of the equation, but an effort could've been made to keep his partner in crime around.

Back in March, the Denver Broncos lured Allen away with a three-year, $47.75 million offer. The 26-year-old has been credited with five sacks, and has also set career-highs in both tackles (52) and quarterback hits (22). How great would Allen have looked on the front wall of the Cards defensive unit over the past 16 weeks?

We've all heard the word "rebuild" when discussions arise about "Big Red". Nevertheless, an almost total disregard for this year's roster was uncalled for. Allowing productive players to leave would not be an advisable strategy for Ossenfort and the Cardinals as they go forward into the future.

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(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference; Salary information provided by Spotrac.com)