by Paul Wanecski
While the demise of the Arizona Cardinals after the departure of Head Coach Bruce Arians and Quarterback Carson Palmer was not much of a surprise, it was a bit shocking when Arizona fired Steve Wilks after just one season. Now, reloaded with Kliff Kingsbury as Head Coach, Arizona has been making enough moves to try and climb out of the basement of the NFL after a season nearly everyone wants to forget.
With $26.5 million still under the cap, General Manager Steve Heim still has plenty of ammunition to go ahead and fix his team, which is loaded with players who the team had made investments in via free agency in years past. When going up and down the roster, you will find it littered with players who you might even be surprised to see on the Cardinals, considering that they were once important contributors on other NFL teams. With multiple bad investments, the team is currently dealing with over $22 million in dead money after releasing Mike Glennon, Sam Bradford, and Andre Smith, just to name a few. After the draft, assuming that Arizona retains all its current draft picks, will end up investing over $12 million on the current class, leaving only about $14 million in cap space, something that you absolutely don’t want if you finish in last place.
If you can believe it, Larry Fitzgerald is coming back for another year…I am not sure what he is expecting to be so different, but I will not go on record criticizing the will of a future hall of fame player. Truthfully, Arizona really didn’t make many additions that improved their team, adding Charles Clay after releasing Jermaine Gresham, bringing in JR Sweezy over Mike Iupati. They did add Terrell Suggs, who really shocked many around the NFL after 16 years, going from a division champion last season in the Baltimore Ravens to the last place Cardinals. They did make a large investment in LB Jordan Hicks, but this team has a long way to go to be considered an improvement over last year. Mind you, last season Mike McCoy was fired by week 7 and the team lost 7 offensive linemen to Injured Reserve. Even giving that concession, Arizona remains a franchise in turmoil.
The rumors swirling around Arizona using another first round pick on Quarterback are too rampant to ignore. While it all could be a ploy to try and drum up interest in other Quarterback-needy teams to open up trade talks, it’s really a head-scratching move. Could the team be shopping Josh Rosen? I mean, possibly. Even though his offensive line was totally demolished, his offensive coordinator was fired halfway through the season only to be replaced by a former quarterback with only two years of experience in coaching, not to mention the fact that Sam Bradford was intended to be the starter (seriously, NFL GMs? How many times have we heard this before he gets injured?), Josh Rosen did everything he could do to stay alive and it certainly wasn’t pretty. I might be in the minority here, but I really don’t think Arizona intends to draft QB Kyler Murray. The team has a variety of needs none of which get solved by drafting another quarterback. Look for the Giants to become trade partners sitting at the 6th overall pick. Arizona benefits much more by gaining draft picks this year and next year. Selecting a top tackle (Jawaan Taylor, Jonah Williams), cornerback (Greedy Williams), defensive tackle (Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver), all are in play for Arizona if they can trade out. If they take Kyler Murray, it will be GM Steve Heim gasping for one last breath as a general manager.
2018 Tape of Draft Prospects
Kyler Murray vs Alabama
Jawaan Taylor vs. Georgia
Jonah Williams vs. Auburn
Greedy Williams vs. Texas A&M
Quinnen Williams vs. LSU
Ed Oliver vs. Texas Tech