The Cardinals had a disappointed 2017. While the defense was as strong and tough as ever despite the loss of Calais Campbell in free agency, a Week 1 injury to David Johnson and then losing Carson Palmer in Week 7 threw the offense into a pit of despair that was impossible to recover from. The end result was an uneven 8-8 season that then saw the retirement of both Palmer and head coach Bruce Arians.
With former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator brought in to succeed Arians, the Cardinals are likely to be a much different team in 2018, but with one of the best general managers in the NFL in Steve Keim they certainly have the ability to quickly reshape themselves, but do they have the resources?
With just $24 million in cap space and eight draft picks there isn’t a lot of room right now to improve things. Where are they likely to focus their efforts?
The most obvious point for them to start with is the quarterback position. While Blaine Gabbert had a few head-turning throws in his time at the end of the season, he is not truly an option for starting quarterback in September. So, who will be?
The Cardinals don’t have the cap space to seriously pursue Kirk Cousins, and they don’t have the draft pick to even consider the likes of Sam Darnold, while there are enough quarterback-needy teams that they could miss out on a top rookie all together unless they are willing to trade up.
The most likely passer to be left on the board is Lamar Jackson, but he carries some accuracy worries as well.
If the Cardinals really think they can’t get one of the top rookies then their options are limited. The Vikings trio of Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, and Sam Bradford are all free agents and each carry their pros and cons. If they want a bridge to 2019 then Josh McCown isn’t a bad option.
Another likely target could be Trevor Siemian, who the Broncos are reportedly shopping him, and Tyrod Taylor who could be let go by the Bills at any time.
There are going to be plenty of options for the Cardinals, it is just a case of who they can afford, and who Steve Keim thinks is the best option for 2018 and beyond.
The Cardinals tried to rebuild their offensive line not too long ago, bringing Jared Veldheer on board in 2014 to play left tackle next to 2013 first round pick Jonathan Cooper. It only briefly worked.
In 2017 though, the Cardinals offensive line was a mess. Veldheer was barely passable at both left and right tackle while Alex Boone, AQ Shipley, Evan Boehm, and Earl Watford played in the middle at varying levels of bad. DJ Humphries was at best average at left tackle as well. The whole unit needs a refit, which will be tough to do with the budget the Cardinals have this year.
If they don’t use their first round pick on a quarterback then expect them to try and snag an elite offensive line talent. Mike McGlinchey and Orlando Brown are the best left tackle candidates and both could well be on the board for the Cardinals, especially if there is an early run on the quarterbacks.
There is some quality offensive linemen available in free agency, but their price tag keeps going up, making it almost impossible for Arizona to add the likes of Nate Solder or Andrew Norwell without making deep cuts to the rest of their roster.
Some of their mid-round picks are going to have to be spent trying to improve the interior of the offensive line as well, because they can’t move forward with the group they have right now and expect David Johnson to be able to carry the offense.
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