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The Cardinals’ injured reserve list grew Wednesday by two, when inside linebacker Tanner Vallejo (ribs) and cornerback Kevin Peterson (shoulder) landed there to end their season.

It kick-started a handful of roster moves for the Cards, which promoted outside linebacker Vontarrius Dora from the practice squad and signed two players away from other practice squads: cornerback Andre Chachere from Carolina and linebacker Keishawn Bierria from Jacksonville.

The Cardinals had three open roster spots, after releasing linebacker Terrell Suggs on Friday.

The loss of Peterson means Chris Jones is likely to get the bulk of the work as the No. 2 cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson, with Byron Murphy having moved back into a role as slot cornerback. Chachere is familiar with the defense, having spent time on the Cardinals’ practice squad earlier this season.

With the loss of Vallejo, Dennis Gardeck — who was named as a special teams Pro Bowl alternate — figures to be the top reserve at inside linebacker behind Jordan Hicks and Joe Walker.

The Cardinals also signed cornerback Duke Thomas and linebacker Jamey Mosley to the practice squad.

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The talented veteran could team with Patrick Peterson to give the Arizona Cardinals one of the NFL’s best cornerback tandems
The 2019 campaign was far from favorable for the Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks. Patrick Peterson’s suspension, combined with Robert Alford‘s leg injury, had an adverse effect on the club’s defensive unit. Both players sit atop the Cards depth chart at the moment, but there’s a recently-released cover guy who would be a fantastic addition to the squad’s secondary.

Xavier Rhodes, who has spent the last seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, was sent packing by the organization this past Friday. The 29-year old was scheduled to make $9.9 million this coming fall, a figure that was apparently a bit too rich for Minnesota. By getting out of the contract, the cap-strapped Vikings have gained $7.5 million in salary cap space.

Rhodes registered 63 tackles and six passes defensed in 15 starts last year. The veteran’s performance in 2019 earned him a Pro Bowl invitation, the third of his NFL career. The 6’1, 218 pound Rhodes is big and physical, and is exactly the type of corner that Arizona has been a longtime proponent of.

The former Florida State University product has appeared in 104 contests, and has 97 starts on his professional resume. Rhodes has racked up 372 tackles, 10 interceptions and an impressive 73 pass breakups during his days with Minnesota.

The Cardinals have seven cornerbacks on the roster at the present time. Along with Peterson and Alford, the team also has Byron Murphy, Chris Jones, Jalen Davis, Sojourn Shelton and Andre Chachere under contract.

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It’s not yet known what kind of cash the Cards would have to offer to get Rhodes to sign on the dotted line. Moving on from Alford, who has yet to play a down for the franchise, would leave just $3 million in dead salary cap money. Having a starting cornerback tandem that features both Peterson and Rhodes is an intriguing scenario that general manager Steve Keim would be wise to consider.

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The Arizona Cardinals re-signed 12 players from the 2019 season. One was safety Chris Banjo, who was signed early in the season and became a core special teams player.

The details for his contract are in. His base salary is $1.05 million. According to Over the Cap, he received a signing bonus of $137,500 and has $162,500 of his salary fully guaranteed. In all, he is guaranteed $300,000 this season, even if he does not make the team.

However, his cap hit will be lower than the nearly $1.19 million he will make this season. Because of how the contract is structured, his contract qualifies for the veteran salary benefit against the cap. The Cardinals get $300,000 in cap relief. Banjo’s contract will count only $887,500 against the salary cap in 2020.

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Let’s take a look at the Arizona Cardinals’ roster position by position as we near the NFL free agency period that can lead to signing beginning on Wednesday, March 18, at 1 p.m.

Here’s a look at the Cardinals’ linebacker positions, where wildly productive starters, both inside and out, need sidekicks.

The basics
Players under contract: OLB Chandler Jones, ILB Jordan Hicks, OLB Haason Reddick, ILB Tanner Vallejo, ILB Dennis Gardeck, ILB Ezekiel Turner, ILB Keishawn Bierria, OLB Vontarrius Dora

Free agents: OLB Cassius Marsh, OLB Brooks Reed, ILB Joe Walker (exclusive rights restricted)

What we know
When you thought Chandler Jones might creep toward more realistic feats in 2019, the outside linebacker playing in his third defensive system in three years put together his best season yet. He recorded 19 sacks and added 53 total tackles with five passes defensed and eight forced fumbles. He did so with a step-slow Terrell Suggs, late offseason pickup Cassius Marsh and inside linebacker convert Haason Reddick combining for 9.0 sacks from the opposite outside edge rusher spot.

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Linebacker Jordan Hicks can say similar things about trying to carry all the weight possible. He was third in the NFL with 149 tackles during his first year in Arizona.

Perhaps the only criticism either of the two received all year long was directed toward Hicks — and that came from head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who said Hicks over-communicated while taking on too many responsibilities trying to keep a struggling defense afloat.

At inside linebacker, Joe Walker was steady to end the year but ideally would be the No. 3 guy, and fellow ILBs Tanner Vallejo, Dennis Gardeck and Zeke Turner have a lot to prove if they are anything more than depth options.

The bottom line is that Jones and Hicks could use some sidekicks at outside and inside backer.

Big question: Can Reddick salvage his career at OLB?
With free agency funds already running dry after a feverish start to the free agency negotiating period, the Cardinals will have to find value, especially with the hope they can fill in depth once they get the starters locked up.

Reddick, Arizona’s first-round pick in 2017, is the wild card in all this at linebacker.

Last year, he got hurt in training camp and started off the season limited. But from Weeks 3-6, he played 100% of the defensive snaps at inside linebacker alongside Hicks.

The Cardinals struggled covering tight ends more than any other team in 2019. It wasn’t all on Reddick of course, but while his athleticism flashed at ILB, it became clear that he was behind learning the position under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

A switch to the outside spot gave him the ability to tap into his natural pass-rushing instincts, but he earned snaps behind Marsh once Suggs was released midseason.

At 235 pounds, will Reddick go into 2020 set on adding bulk to win the other outside linebacker starting job?

Reddick enters the final year of his rookie deal still one of the best athletes on the team but without a set-in-stone NFL position. That could dictate how much the Cardinals improve on defense as much as what Arizona does to shore up tight end pass defense — an available and healthy secondary should help any ILB who starts alongside Hicks.

It’s hard to see at the moment how the Cardinals will shell out for either a premier pass-rusher or modern three-down inside linebacker this summer; both positions garner big money.

At ILB, Cory Littleton, Joe Schobert, Nick Vigil, Tahir Whitehead and Blake Martinez are among the biggest names on the market. Outside, Jadeveon Clowney, Dante Fowler and former Cardinals Markus Golden are among those hitting free agency.

The good news is that there are a lot of talented free agents at edge, especially. Maybe waiting things until the market dries up could help the Cardinals find an acceptable contract with a talented player. But Reddick being a capable starter sure would be a pleasant surprise, both for his career’s trajectory and the Cardinals’ bank account.

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The Arizona Cardinals are losing one of their defensive starters in free agency. The latest is linebacker Joe Walker is staying the the division and, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, is headed to the San Francisco 49ers on a one-year contract.

Tom Pelissero

The #49ers are signing LB Joe Walker to a one-year deal, source said. Walker took a first-round pick’s job last year, started 11 games and had 65 tackles for the #Cardinals. Now, he stays in the NFC West.

2:31 AM – Mar 24, 2020
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Walker will likely be a backup and special teams player there.

That is what he probably should have been for the Cardinals in 2019 but he played himself into the defensive rotation.

He played in all 16 games, starting 11. He had 65 tackles and a forced fumble.

As Haason Reddick struggled, Walker impressed coaches in practice. He first went from being a backup to playing in base defensive packages. Later in the season he completely replaced Reddick at inside linebacker and Reddick moved outside.

Walker filled in a void and was productive but his position needed to be upgraded. With the addition of De’Vondre Campbell in free agency, Walker now moves on to the 49ers.

The Cardinals still have Dennis Gardeck, Keiswhan Bierria and Zeke Turner as backup linebackers.

Walker is the fourth Cardinals free agent to head elsewhere. Receivers Damiere Byrd and Pharoh Cooper signed one-year deals with the Patriots and Panthers. Defensive lineman Rodney Gunter got a three-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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The Arizona Cardinals have signed former Atlanta Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to a one-year deal, the team announced Thursday.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth up to $8.5 million.

The signing comes a day after the Cardinals added former Detroit Lions linebacker Devon Kennard on a three-year contract, Schefter reported.

Campbell, who turns 27 in July, led the Falcons in tackles last season with 129 to go with 2 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles. He developed a chemistry with fellow linebacker Deion Jones and emerged as a vocal leader in the locker room.


Source: Cards to sign LB Kennard to 3-year deal

NFL free-agency tracker: Latest signings, trades, cuts and news
The Falcons selected Campbell in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of Minnesota, and he developed his game in Atlanta under the tutelage of linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich. Campbell’s size (6-foot-4, 232 pounds) and speed made him a versatile performer in coach Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme as a player who could also be used as an extra pass-rusher.

Campbell eventually established a reputation for defending top tight ends. He even boldly stated that there was no tight end in the league he couldn’t guard successfully.

2020 Free Agency | Cardinals
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• Cardinals’ free-agent signings »
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In four seasons with the Falcons, Campbell had 363 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions while starting 54 games.

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New Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Jordan Phillips was introduced to the Arizona media via video conference on Monday. There were a few things we learned in that call.

Some are football-related. Some are not.

He’s out to prove he’s the ‘real deal’

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Already detailed in a story, Phillips is out to prove in Arizona that his big numbers in 2019 are something he can continue. He had 9.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits at 13 tackles for loss last season. Some believe it was a fluke or it was him playing for a contract.

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One of the most important aspects of this offseason for the Arizona Cardinals is not nailing it and becoming an instant contender (though no one would complain) it is nailing it and being prepared for the next four seasons.

The Cardinals have a unique opportunity similar to the Ravens and Chiefs to build around a young, budding superstar quarterback and take advantage of their skill level and low salary.

The key though is finding supplemental players to pair with Murray that allows the Cardinals to maintain their level of play when Murray gets paid.

That’s why the draft will be more important than ever. The Cardinals need to find not just impact players, but they need to find fellow building blocks on day two and day three of the draft.

When you look at the Kansas City Chiefs, most of their defense was bought, with Chris Jones, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Derrick Nnadi all being the only draft picks on the starting defense for the Super Bowl Champions.

All three were day two picks and only Chris Jones played over 50% of the snaps as a rookie.

What the Chiefs did was draft and develop a defensive line that could supplement their 8 other starters. Jones has developed into a star, and that should not go unnoticed, but the foundation was built by consistently investing on day two along the lines.

Over the last five NFL Drafts the Chiefs have drafted these players on day two:

2015 – Mitch Morse (started 49 games in 4 seasons for Chiefs and 16 games in 2019 for Bills)

2016 – Chris Jones (started 41 games in 4 season)

2017 – Tanoh Kpassagnon (started 8 games in 3 seasons)

2018 – Breeland Speaks (started 4 games as rookie IR in 2019)

2018 – Derrick Nnandi (started 27 games in 2 seasons)

2018 – Dorian O’Daniel (started 1 game in 2 seasons)

2019 – Khalen Saunders (started 4 games as a rookie)

Five drafts, seven picks spent on the defensive front or offensive line. O’Daniel would be the only “bust” and is a key special teams contributor.

The Chiefs also traded away first round picks in 2016, 2018 and 2019. 2016 was for additional draft picks, 2018 was for Mahomes and 2019 was for pass rusher Frank Clark.

The Chiefs have consistently put their front seven on defense as a day two priority in the NFL Draft. They spend at least one pick every season on it and are not afraid to continue to cycle through.

The Cardinals in the same span of time:

2015 – Markus Golden (24 starts in 4 seasons for Cardinals 16 starts in 1 season for NY Giants)

2018 – Mason Cole (18 starts in 2 season for Cardinals)

2019 – Zach Allen (1 start in 2019 before going on IR)

Compare the numbers. Three picks since 2015 on day two for offensive line and defensive front players.

The Chiefs have two players that have nearly as many starts alone as all the picks for the Cardinals combined. The Cardinals have 43 total starts out of day two players. The Chiefs have 134 starts out of their day two players along just the offensive line and defensive front.

The Cardinals have the quarterback, they have the weapons, they need to find a way to invest as heavily and consistently along the lines.

It’s not about using day one picks, the Chiefs have not drafted an offensive linemen in the first round since Eric Fisher or a defensive front player since Dee Ford, it’s about consistently drafting these positions. It is about consistent investment, not premium investment.

That’s where the Arizona Cardinals are now. It doesn’t have to be the eighth pick to get help, but you can’t get help if you never consistently invest.

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After two weeks the Arizona Cardinals have made some moves on offense, but most importantly they have added to what was a good offense in 2019.

They have nearly every starter returning right now, outside of the center position and have upgraded at wide receiver like few expected to be possible.

Let’s see where the depth chart lies after the first two weeks of free agency.

QB – Kyler Murray, Brett Hundley, Drew Anderson, Chris Streveler

RB – Kenyan Drake, Chase Edmonds, D.J. Foster

WR – Larry Fitzgerald, Andy Isabella, A.J. Richardson

WR – DeAndre Hopkins, Trent Sherfield, Hakeem Butler

WR – Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson, Johnnie Dixon

TE – Maxx Willaims, Dan Arnold, Darrell Daniels

LT – D.J. Humphries, Joshua Miles

LG – Justin Pugh, Sam Jones

C – Mason Cole, Lamont Gaillard

RG – J.R. Sweezy, Max Garcia

RT – Justin Murray, Marcus Gilbert, Brett Toth

At this point, you have to be comfortable going into the season knowing you can improve at a couple of positions, but there is nothing that screams “HELP!”.

Tight end and right tackle seem like the easiest place to slide in a new player and give even better depth to the team overall.

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Brett Hundley likes to spend his off-time traveling the world, but it took coming home to find a spot he truly fit in the NFL.

The free-agent quarterback, who worked well as Kyler Murray’s backup in 2019, agreeing to re-sign with the Cardinals Sunday on a one-year deal.

The Chandler High School product appeared in only three games last season. But one was crucial, coming in for an injured Murray and engineering enough of an offense in the second half for an impressive win in Seattle in Week 16. For the season, Hundley completed 5-of-11 passes for 49 yards and added seven rush attempts for 41 yards.

More importantly, he clicked with Murray as they navigated Murray’s rookie season together.

The Cardinals also have Drew Anderson at quarterback as well as CFL signee Chris Streveler, who could evolve into a Taysom Hill-type jack-of-multiple trades. Hundley will be expected to remain Murray’s top backup.

“This offense is perfect for me, everything about this organization I like, from the top down,” Hundley said in December. “I want to do the most I can with the opportunities I have.”