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In case you missed it from yesterday’s article , here is the Cardinals current “two deep” roster:

Offense (24 players):

QB: Kyler Murray (22); Brett Hundley (26)

RB: Kenyan Drake (26); Chase Edmonds (23)

TE: Maxx Williams (25); Dan Arnold (25)

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (36); Hakeem Butler (23)

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (27); KeeSean Johnson (23)

WR: Christian Kirk (23); Andy Isabella (23)

LT: D.J. Humphries (26); Joshua Miles (24)

LG: Justin Pugh (29); Max Garcia (28)

C: Mason Cole (23); Lamont Gaillard (24)

RG: J.R. Sweezy (30); Sam Jones (24)

RT: Justin Murray (26); Brett Toth (23)

WC: Chris Streveler (25); Trent Sherfield (24)

Defense (22 players):

SAM OLB: Devon Kennard (28); Haason Reddick (25)

LDE: Zach Allen (22); Jonathan Bullard (26)

NT: Corey Peters (31); Miles Brown (22)

RDE: Jordan Phillips (27); Michael Dogbe (23)

JACK OLB: Chandler Jones (30); Kylie Fitts (25)

MIKE ILB: Jordan Hicks (27): Dennis Gardeck (25)

WILL ILB: De’Vondre Campbell (26); Tanner Vallejo (25)

LCB: Patrick Peterson (29); Byron Murphy (22)

SS: Jalen Thomson (21); Charles Washington (27)

FS: Budda Baker (24); Deionte Thompson (23)

RCB: Robert Alford (31); Chris Jones (24)

Special Teams (6 players):

K Zane Gonzalez (24)

P Andy Lee (37); Ryan Winslow (25)

LS: Aaron Brewer (29)

ST: Zeke Turner (23); Chris Banjo (30)

Analysis:

Steve Keim has been doing a diligent job of adding key players at positions of need, while trying to maintain as much continuity as possible (re-signing 10 of the Cardinals’ own free agents!) in all three phases of the team, offense, defense and special teams.
The main reason why Keim’s efforts have been praiseworthy is that no one as yet knows when teams will be able to hold mini-camps—-if at all before the middle of July—-and thus maintaining as much continuity as possible should allow the Cardinals to hit the round running as best they can in training camp.
In all likelihood, this year’s rookies are going to have a difficult time of competing for starting jobs or key roles early on in the season because of the uncertain timetables as to when teams can hold OTAs and minicamps. Thus—-when you look at what Keim has done—-he has assembled bona fide starters and solid, young depth at every position so that the Cardinals will not be forced to rush in a rookie too quickly.
There has been a recent proposal from the GM Committee to postpone the NFL Draft (due to greater restrictions for urban teams and the inability to conduct necessary physicals and meetings for draft prospects with question marks, etc.), although it appears that the NFL would prefer to keep the draft as scheduled.
The way the Cardinals’ current roster is constructed, it appears that the positions the Cardinals could be targeting the most in the draft are: T, RB, OLB, ILB, S, DT (if they are unable to re-sign Zach Kerr or another UFA DT) and TE (if they are unable to re-sign Charles Clay)—-with reasons being the potential practice squad bubble players on the current two-deep: T Brett Toth, RB (no 3rd RB on roster and Kenyan Drake is on a 1 year deal), OLB Kylie Fitts, ILB Tanner Vallejo (De’Vondre Campbell is on a one year deal), S (Charles Washington and Chris Banjo are used primarily as ST aces).
My hunch is that Steve Keim would prefer to move down from #8 in order to add an extra pick or two. Seth Cox and I were discussing this last evening and it would not be surprising if the Cardinals traded down even into the teens or 20s (depending on the added draft pick haul) if they have comparably high grades on Ts Ezra Cleveland (Boise St.), Josh Jones (Houston) or Austin Jackson (USC)—-or—-if they think they can still draft one of those tackles in Round 2, if they pick up a 2nd rounder in the trade—-they could decided to take one of these following players:
WR John Jefferson (LSU)—-Jerry Sullivan’s favorite WR in the draft

RB K.J Dobbins (Ohio St.)—-the top bell cow RB in this class

DT Ross Blacklock (TCU), Neville Gallimore (Oklahoma)—-crackerjack defensive lineman the Cardinals have expressed interest in.

S Xavier McKinney (Alabama)—-stud, multi-talented defender

ILB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma) or Patrick Queen (LSU)—-other star defenders the Cardinals have interviewed.

CB Trevon Diggs (Alabama), C.J. Henderson (Florida) or Kristian Fulton (LSU)—-all fit Vance Jospeh’s press CB mold..

The thing about all of these players mentioned above—-all of them should be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at #72.

Thus, if the Cardinals have one or two of these players rated in their top 10, they can trade down to take him and add a Day 2 pick, plus maybe a Day 3 pick as well.

So, for the sake of discussion, let’s say the Cardinals trade the #8 pick to the Dolphins for their #18 (1st Round), #39 (2nd Round) and #153 (5th Round) picks, here is a mock of what they could accomplish:

  1. Ezra Cleveland, T, Boise St. Has similar size, athleticism and feet to Eagles’ standout RT Lane Johnson. Can play both LT and RT.
  2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, LSU. With Kyler Murray, he forms nearly impossible tandem and 1-2 punch for LBers, at times, to see and pick up. Joe Burrow said Clyde was the toughest and most favorite teammate on the Tigers.
  3. Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois. The length, quickness and speed to blanket TEs, as he did at the Senior Bowl.
  4. James Lynch, 34DE, Baylor. 24/7 motor who manifests tremendous determination to tackle RBs and get to the QB.
  5. Kevin Dotson, G, Louisiana Tech. #1 grade (92.1) at G in 2019, per PFF.
  6. Evan Weaver, ILB, California. Tackling magnet whom the Cardinals have shown extensive interest in..
  7. Derrek Tuszka, OLB/DE, North Dakota St. Tenacious edge rusher. The defensive MVP of the Missouri Valley Conference (1st Team All-American), Tuszka’s 48 tackles and 13 1⁄2 sacks helped lead the Bison to another national championship.
  8. J.J. Taylor, RB, Arizona. Super quick and elusive, albeit under-sized.

What do you think of this draft as it would compare to taking T Jedrick Wills or T Tristan Wirfs at #8 and taking Cleveland, Edwards-Helaire and Weaver out of the equation?

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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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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 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.

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

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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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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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The Cardinals’ defensive line might be the most concerning position on the defense. Against the run, they finished 24th in the NFL last season and the line had a combined seven sacks. Their unit is led by 31-year-old nose tackle Corey Peters, who remains the most consistent run defender on the team. He finished the 2019 season with 38 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

After him, they are counting on last year’s third-round pick Zach Allen to start as the left side defensive tackle. He had a disappointing rookie year, suffering a season-ending neck injury in week four. Allen finished the year with only eight tackles through 144 snaps.

Even then, expectations remain very high for the second-year defensive tackle. The Cardinals had him as a top-25 prospect on their draft board for a reason and are hoping for big improvements from the Boston College standout.

The return of Brentson Buckner as the Cardinals’ defensive line coach certainly helps. He helped the Raiders jump from last in the NFL in sacks (13) in 2018 to 24th (32) last season. Their run defense also made a significant improvement from being 30th in 2018 to eighth in 2019. He was one of the biggest reasons why the Cardinals had so much success from 2013 to 2017.

Seventh-round pick Michael Dogbe, Miles Brown, and Lyndon Johnson are the only other defensive lineman under contract for the Cardinals through 2020. Dogbe had some good moments in the preseason but was a healthy scratch for most of the year. He had five tackles, one tackle for loss, and one QB hit through eight games. Brown was in and out of the roster but finished with four tackles. Johnson signed with the team on a futures contract.

With that said, they are still in search of a dominant starting defensive tackle that they have been missing since the departure of Calais Campbell in free agency a few seasons ago. Rodney Gunter is an impending free agent that led the Cardinals’ defensive lineman in sacks (3). His 2019 statistics also include 31 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 10 QB hits. His familiarity with Buckner and Vance Joseph’s defense makes him a player likely to be re-signed.

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Zach Kerr and Jonathan Bullard were quality backup defensive lineman for the Cardinals last season but are impending free agents as well. Cardinals will be interested in re-signing them but not before letting them test the market. Clinton McDonald and Caraun Reid will not be back.

Super Bowl LIV – San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
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The Cardinals can immediately improve their defensive line by trading for Chiefs’ DT Chris Jones or the Jaguars’ DT Calais Campbell. If they choose to upgrade the nose tackle position, Steelers’ Javon Hargrave and Texans’ D.J. Reader are good options. None of these players will come cheap but it is the price they have to pay for quality players.

If they choose to go bargain hunting, Cowboys’ Maliek Collins or Eagles’ Timmy Jernigan would fit the bill. Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris will get plenty of interest from the Cardinals.

Javon Kinlaw and Derrick Brown are the top defensive tackle prospects on the 2020 draft class. Day two prospects to consider are A.J. Epenesa, Ross Blacklock, Jordan Elliott, and Justin Madubuike.

If the Cardinals can improve their run defense and upgrade the pass rush up front, it will do wonders for the secondary which finished 31st last season.

Whatever the team decides to do, this position must be prioritized in either free agency or the draft. No more taking chances on inconsistent draft prospects like Robert Nkemdiche, or aging players like Terrell Suggs. If the Cardinals want to contend in 2020, they need to minimize their mistakes and get the most out of the money they spend.

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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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A quick check of our Arizona Sports Mock Draft Tracker revealed eight new 2020 NFL mock drafts posted Thursday.

Every single one of them has the Arizona Cardinals selecting an offensive tackle with the No. 8 pick. But why?

The thought process is simple. It’s assuming the Cardinals will draft based on need.

The Cardinals were sacked 50 times last season, tied for fifth-most in the NFL. While they re-signed left tackle D.J. Humphries and are bringing back right tackles Justin Murray and Marcus Gilbert, do they trust them?

Gilbert has played in only 12 of 48 games over the past three seasons due to injury. Murray only has 12 career starts, all of them coming last season.

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There is not a lot of proven talent behind them unless the Cardinals trust in rapid development of 2019 seventh-round pick Joshua Miles or 23-year-old Brett Toth, who has not appeared in an NFL game.

Is it likely Arizona drafts a tackle No. 8 overall? Yes, and I get it.

But it’s no forgone conclusion. Here’s the nuance that general manager Steve Keim and his staff will be healthily debating for the next few weeks.

The DeAndre Hopkins trade shouldn’t end WR consideration

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Recent mock drafts cite the Cardinals’ trade for receiver DeAndre Hopkins as a reason for Arizona to forget about taking one of the top receivers: CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs III.

It’s important to remember that while the Cardinals trended more toward 11-personnel (three receivers, one tight end) and away from 10-personnel (four receivers, no tight ends) as coach Kliff Kingsbury navigated his first season, they were still wildly in favor of four receivers relative to the rest of the NFL.

They lined up with four receivers on 18% of their snaps with talent including Damiere Byrd, Pharoh Cooper and KeeSean Johnson, among others.

Now, trading for Hopkins might change what type of receiver the Cardinals want. Lamb gets comparisons to Hopkins, and it’s a wonder if Arizona would want two physical jump-ball threats on each side of the field. Would they rather have Jeudy’s versatility meshing with Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk or a vertical stretcher like Ruggs bringing something that neither of those three have?

Who is the No. 3 and 4 WR of the future?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Here’s where we remind ourselves that Fitzgerald is 36 years old and continues to string together one-year contracts. For the 2021 season, the Cardinals don’t even have a clear-cut third receiver after Hopkins and Kirk.

Johnson, Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and Trent Sherfield return and could assume that role if Fitzgerald calls it a career. If Arizona still feels good about one of them panning out, there’s less pressure to take a receiver in the 2019 draft.

While we’re talking about those young players, it’s important to remember the 2020 draft class has first-round receiver talents who could fall to the second or third rounds. Arizona, however, doesn’t have a second-round pick after the Hopkins deal.

It’s hard to say which receivers are left at 72nd overall, 114th overall and so on.

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The Cardinals are hoping for a major turnaround in 2020 behind quarterback Kyler Murray, but the roster still needs to be upgraded. General Manager Steve Keim has some cap space this offseason and will aim to plug holes on both sides of the ball. This is the final positional group breakdown leading into free agency, which is scheduled to begin with the legal tampering period on Monday, March 16.

Free agent primer: Offensive Line

Other positional primers: LB I WR I DL I QB I CB I TE I S I RB I ST

Cap hit of players under contract for 2020 (via OverTheCap.com): T D.J. Humphries ($12.8 million); G Justin Pugh ($10.5 million); G J.R. Sweezy ($6.5 million); C Mason Cole ($887,629); G/C Lamont Gaillard ($632,034); T Joshua Miles ($603,644); T Brett Toth ($585,000); G Sam Jones ($585,000).

Scheduled free agents: C A.Q. Shipley; T Justin Murray (exclusive rights); T Marcus Gilbert; T Jordan Mills; G Max Garcia.

Need: Low

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Analysis: The Cardinals locked down an integral piece by re-signing D.J. Humphries to a three-year deal in February. He will return to play left tackle, while Justin Pugh and J.R. Sweezy are projected to return as the starting guards. Starting center A.Q. Shipley is an impending free agent, and it remains to be seen if he returns or if the Cardinals go younger at the position. Mason Cole started all 16 games as a rookie in 2018 and filled in at multiple spots last season.

Right tackle is the most intriguing position. Justin Murray started most of the season after veteran Marcus Gilbert tore his ACL, and improved as the year went on. He will be back as an exclusive rights free agent, so it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals plunk him in as a low-cost starter or if they look for a higher-priced veteran to fortify the position. It’s tough to pencil in Gilbert as a clear-cut starter due to his extensive injury history, but he is a talented player who shouldn’t command the type of salary he did in past years.

Brett Toth, Lamont Gaillard and Joshua Miles are a trio of young players aiming to get into the mix with a solid offseason, while Sam Jones hopes to make the team after spending 2019 on the practice squad.

General Manager Steve Keim could stick with familiar faces at every position, or he could look to revamp a spot or two on the free agent market. Some of the top tackles scheduled to hit the market include Jack Conklin, Bryan Bulaga, Anthony Castonzo and Jason Peters. If Keim wants to add an interior player, prominent impending free agents include Brandon Scherff, Joe Thuney and Andrus Peat.

Notable past free agent special teams signings: Sweezy (2019); Pugh (2018); Andre Smith (2018); Alex Boone (2017); Earl Watford (2017); Evan Mathis (2016); Mike Iupati (2015); Shipley (2015); Jared Veldheer (2014); Ted Larsen (2014); Eric Winston (2013); Adam Snyder (2012); Daryn Colledge (2011); Rex Hadnot (2010); Mike Gandy (2007); Al Johnson (2007); Milford Brown (2006); Oliver Ross (2005); Pete Kendall (2001); Mike Gruttadauria (2000); Lester Holmes (1998); Lomas Brown (1996).

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The Arizona Cardinals front office is bringing back the offensive tackle who’s knee injury cost him the entire 2019 campaign
This past Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals front office made a somewhat surprising move. Marcus Gilbert, an offensive tackle who was acquired in a trade 12 months ago, was brought back on a one-year deal. The 6’6, 330 pounder missed all of last season with a torn ACL, and the general feeling was that the Cards would move on from the injury-prone Gilbert.

There were several reasons to believe that the club would find another way to fill the vacancy at their right tackle post. For one, various ailments had caused Gilbert to miss a bunch of playing time over the past few campaigns. In fact, the 32-year old has appeared in just 25 of a possible 64 games since 2016.

Besides the injury factor, many fans of the Cardinals strongly believed that the organization would look to next month’s NFL Draft for an alternative to Gilbert. There could be as many as four blue-chip offensive tackles for the franchise to choose from when they make their selection in the first round. It’s a group that includes Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr.,Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Louisville’s Mekhi Becton.

The fact that the Cards elected to bring back Justin Murray also made the retaining of Gilbert a bit of a head-scratcher. The 26-year old Murray held his own as the squad’s starting right tackle in 2019, and could likely do so again if Arizona really needed him to this coming fall. The $3.75 million that Gilbert will earn with his one-year contract almost guarantees that he’ll get the nod over Murray on the team’s 2020 depth chart.

Perhaps Cardinals general manager Steve Keim is just plain determined to get some payback on the investment he made in Gilbert a year ago. In March of ’19, a sixth-round draft pick was sent to the Pittsburgh Steelers for the veteran’s services. Gilbert’s season-ending knee injury robbed Keim and the Cards of any rewards they could’ve reaped by making the trade.

NEXT: Cardinals obtain another defensive lineman
The presence of Gilbert could certainly make Arizona go in a completely different direction with the draft’s eight-overall selection. Perhaps a player who could help them on the defensive side of the ball will be the choice. We’re now just weeks away from finding out what the Cardinals decision-makers will do with their valuable pick.

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The Arizona Cardinals still have an unsettled tight end room to deal with
Currently the Arizona Cardinals have three tight ends on their roster. Maxx Williams, Dan Arnold, and Darrell Daniels are the only tight ends under contract.

The Cardinals did bring in Charles Clay last season but he is currently not on the roster. He is a free agent but has not yet signed with any team. Would the Cardinals bring him back?

It is possible but the Cardinals have been fairly quiet about the position. Tight end proved to not be an essential part to the 2019 offense under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.

It would seem Williams isn’t going anywhere. Arnold played well in his short time with the team at the end of the 2019 season. He played in three games in December, grabbing six receptions and two touchdowns.

Despite the lower usage of the position, it is still important the Cardinals have tight ends they can count on. It is still hard to imagine them sticking with just these three.

Williams caught just 15 passes for 202-yards and a touchdown. In case you were still interested in seeing Clay come back, he just 18 receptions for 237-yards and one touchdown.

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That’s 30 receptions and two touchdowns from their top two tight ends from last season. If they do make any more additions, look for one to possibly be drafted.

The Cardinals could go into next season with just three tight ends, which could be a possibility given the number of receivers that could fight for a roster spot in camp and preseason. Still, it is hard to see a Williams/Arnold one, two going into 2020.

NEXT: If the Cardinals didn’t play in 2020
Williams is fun to watch. Last season though was the first time he played in all 16 games of a season since being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2015. He will be around for the next two seasons though but needs help.