Klowned by Keim
- Feb 14, 2003
- Reaction score
- Gilbert, AZ
Four Downs: NFC West
Biggest Need: Weapons
Arizona made the playoffs last season for the first time in six years, but it's hard to build on that success when you're going through significant roster churn. Based on 2021 playing time, the Cardinals are at risk of losing their top two running backs, their top two wide receivers, and their top four tight ends, all of whom are about to enter free agency at the same time. Between those eight players, that's nearly 70% of Arizona's yards from scrimmage last year poised to walk out the door.
Of those eight, it's most imperative that the Cardinals hang on to Christian Kirk, who has quietly been their leading receiver in the Kyler Murray era. With Kirk and DeAndre Hopkins (who might have returned from his torn MCL to play in the Super Bowl Arizona had gotten that far) out wide and second-year player Rondale Moore as the designated YAC guy in the slot, the Cardinals would still have a fine trio of starters at receiver. At running back, James Conner scored 18 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl, but he has little to offer beyond goal-line punch—he averaged only 3.7 yards per carry and finished barely above average in rushing DVOA. Chase Edmonds, one of the NFL's top receiving backs, would actually be a bigger loss, having finished in the top five in receiving DYAR and DVOA in each of the last two seasons. A.J. Green and Zach Ertz were quality players in Arizona, but both are in their early 30s and are lower on the priority list.
Major Free Agents: RB James Conner, RB Chase Edmonds, TE Zach Ertz, WR A.J. Green, ER Chandler Jones, WR Christian Kirk, QB Colt McCoy, DT Corey Peters
For all that talent the Cardinals might lose on offense, their biggest free agent is actually on defense. Chandler Jones enjoyed quite a bounceback season, going from one sack in five games in 2020 to 10.5 in 15 games in 2021. He also led the team with 36 total pressures and a dozen tackles for loss, per Pro Football Reference. According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN, Jones is likely to be playing for a new team this fall. Corey Peters turns 34 in June, but he remains an integral part of the Arizona front; he has started at least nine games for the Cardinals in each of the past six years, including 11 last season. And Arizona might not have been a playoff team at all last year were it not for Colt McCoy, who played well in a pair of wins over San Francisco and Seattle (combined statline: 81.4% completion rate, 8.2 yards per throw, three touchdowns, no interceptions).