DJ Humphries has come a long way since Bruce Arians infamously dubbed the former first rounder "Knee Deep" as a rookie.
Last year Humphries started all 16 games for the first time in his career and by Steve Keim standards, was downright spectacular as a Keim first round pick.
Now, he's an unrestricted free agent. And at 27 years old, he's about to get PAID by the Cardinals or someone else.
Should the Arizona Cardinals really make Humphries one of the highest paid LT's in football?
Everyone in the Cardinals media thinks so but would that really be the right call?
Last season according to Pro Football Focus, Humphries graded out at a middle of the road 64.5. For context, the best LT PFF graded was Ravens T Ronnie Stanley who earned an 87.2.
He only allowed 2 sacks but was penalized 13 times which was tied for 5th amongst all tackles, again according to PFF.
Humphries was the anchor of a Cardinals offensive line that overall PFF ranked as the 22nd best in all of football, which was much better than the previous year but still below average relative to the rest of the NFL.
Signing him to a long term team would be a MAJOR risk for the franchise. Many will point to his 16 starts as a sign of Humphries putting durability questions behind him; I'd offer up the possibility that its more likely this year was a fluke compared to the previous three seasons in which he ended up on IR before the end of the year.
But I also don't think the Cardinals are better by letting Humphries walk for nothing.
The franchise tag.
The Cardinals should slap the franchise tag on their 27 year old LT and let another year go by before either taking the plunge on a massive long term contract or deciding they can do better.
I'm not a big fan of the franchise tag in general. Its training wheels for bad GM's.
Well, guess what Steve Keim has been the last few years? A bad GM.
If they pay Humphries big dollars now long term and he's unable to stay healthy or get much better, the domino effect on the offense and Kyler Murray would be massive. An inconsistent or unhealthy long term contract for Murray's blind side protector would mean a backup playing LT until cutting Humphries loose would be palatable.
On the other hand, if they let Humphries walk because his market is too rich, they are now looking at finding two new starting tackles on a line that was starting to show some signs of progress.
Not to mention they'd be missing out on a rare chance to lock up a home grown draft pick to a second long term contract, something that's only happened three times under Steve Keim's leadership since 2013 (Ellington, Mathieu and David Johnson).
By using the franchise tag, they pay Humphires A LOT now (somewhere around $19 million for just this season) but give themselves an additional year to evaluate their long term options.
Its not ideal but compared to their other options, it would be the best solution for the Cardinals and Kyler Murray, which is the only thing that should matter this offseason for the team.