The Arizona Cardinals recently ended minicamp before reconvening for training camp at the end of the summer. This provides time for the front office and coaching staff to survey the roster to find potential weaknesses. Everyone can agree cornerback continues to be the weak spot for this team, especially after the untimely death of Jeff Gladney last month. Compile that with the needs at pass rusher and wide receiver, the Cardinals’ should look to improve these areas before the season.
Per OverTheCap, the Cardinals have a little over 11.5 million in available cap space. Of course, the priority is to work out a long-term deal with star QB Kyler Murray. The Cardinals have the cap space to find quality, cost-efficient free agents to round out this roster.
Why should they look to add more veterans? This team has endured a second-half collapse every year of Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure. Include this was the third-most penalized team in the NFL last season. More veteran presence in the locker room and practice field can go a long way to changing the Cardinals’ outcomes to close this season. It can help the development of the younger players.
Besides leadership, capable veterans can help this team with their on-field abilities. Which veterans should this team consider bringing ahead of this year’s training camp? Below are the five I believe make the most sense.
The former Indianapolis Colt is headed into his 11th season in the league. He has been a productive and reliable weapon for the Colts’ offense. At 32 years old, Hilton showcased the ability to gash defenses deep downfield. He averaged over 14-ypc, with Carson Wentz at the helm. Hilton should not come at a hefty price. DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games.
The talent pool at wide receiver is good but depth is a concern. Hilton would provide Murray a reliable weapon to take advantage of single coverage across from Marquise Brown. Not to forget, Hilton had a good day reeling in four receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown in a victory over the Cardinals last season. Finally, he brings great energy and leadership. Two things this offense needs when trouble arises!
The 32-year-old veteran cornerback is coming off consecutive productive seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. He did not allow 500 yards in coverage during either season. The former Viking is well-versed in both man and zone coverages. A credit to his high football IQ. His communication and leadership would be a nice asset to Vance Joseph’s defense.
With Rhodes’ frame and length, he is an ideal matchup corner for bigger-body wide receivers in the division like Allen Robinson and Deebo Samuel. He is a tough and physical cornerback. He would not be asked to assume the CB1 role for this defense. The more talent and depth, the better!
Chandler Jones signed with the Las Vegas Raiders this off-season. The Cardinals attempted to replace him by adding two mid-round rookies. The plan seems to be, to pass rush with a committee since there is no lead dog. Adding Jason Pierre-Paul gives this defense a productive veteran pass rusher with a championship pedigree.
Pierre-Paul is a leader on and off the field. He is capable of playing with his hand in the dirt or as a stand-up outside linebacker. Also, he adds a level of toughness against the run to hold up at the point of attack. His length, relentless motor, and maturity would help apply pressure to opposing offenses. The unquantifiable aspect is the knowledge he can bestow upon the team’s young pass rushers.
Vance Joseph continues to deploy at 3-4 base defense. This means there are three defensive linemen and four linebackers on the field. This defense has lacked a two-gapping nose tackle in the middle. Without one, it makes the young developing linebacker’s job more difficult.
Brandon Williams is a stout and wide-body defender that can handle two-gap responsibilities. This will keep interior offensive lineman from climbing to Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins. As a result, they will be able to scrap and flow freely to the football. Williams does not offer any value on third downs. His contract should be very team friendly.
Rodney Hudson was absent from the mandatory minicamp for personal reasons. No one knows if everything will be cleared up in time for training camp. Even if it is, the Cardinals should look for depth at the position. Sean Harlow is not enough to feel comfortable. Justin Pugh is willing and ready to take snaps at center if called upon. Yet, adding a versatile veteran offensive lineman can provide a sigh of relief.
Trey Hopkins can both guard and center. He can step into the starting role if either positional starter goes down or misses a game. He is experienced in a zone-based rushing scheme after his time in Cincinnati. He has started 46 games over the last three seasons. Hopkins could be a quality depth signing and asset to this offensive line group.
The Cardinals are in an open NFC conference but a tough division. Adding a quality veteran or two to key positions can be a benefit. This team can still make a run for the playoffs but some tweaks from a personal standpoint.
Are you there any free agents you would like to see the team consider? Leave them in the comment section.