Since the Cardinals don't want to do it, I guess I will.
We are three days into NFL free agency and while the Cardinals have been somewhat busy, they've been somewhat busy re-signing their own guys.
So while the Jaguars screw up everyone's offseason plans by re-setting the market in real time, I've decided to play free agent match maker for the Arizona Cardinals.
As I see it, the Cardinals have four major needs they need to address before the offseason can be complete. Their holes at CB, Edge rusher, WR2 and RG are all obvious. With the free agent market currently in a standstill, I offer realistic choices for the Cardinals to consider in order to nail free agency.
The candidates: Billy Turner, Andrew Norwell, Trai Turner or Daryl Washington
The match: Daryl Williams
- Williams played just over 600 snaps last season at RG for the Buffalo Bills. The only player with more snaps at RG on my list is Trai Turner, who logged over 1000 for the Steelers. Here's why my choice is Williams: Blocking for a quarterback like Josh Allen is better on the job training for blocking for Kyler Murray than Big Ben. Also at age 30, Williams could be a potential 2-3 year solution along the Cardinals OL.
The candidates: Stephon Gilmore, Donte Jackson, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson, Rasul Douglas, Steven Nelson, Kyle Fuller
The match: Casey Hayward
- Hayward is the right mix of cost effectiveness, on field effectiveness and age. At 33, he'll likely command just a one year deal in the $5-7 million dollar range. At that price, Hayward would provide excellent insurance in case Byron Murphy continues to struggle playing outside. A Hayward/Marco Wilson/Murphy trio would be a strong trio to take on the NFC West. The other CB's on the list are either not good enough or too expensive; Hayward is the sweet spot for both after ranking as PFF's 24'th highest graded CB in the NFL last season.
The candidates: Chandler Jones, Von Miller, Jadeveon Clowney, Za'Darious Smith, Derek Barnett, Justin Houston, Jerry Hughes, Melvin Ingram
The match: Justin Houston
- Houston would be eerily reminiscent of other past successful pass rushing reclamation projects from Steve Keim in Dwight Freeney and John Abraham. Houston notched 22 sacks in 2014, has over 100 in his career and as recently as 2020 had 8 for the Indianapolis Colts. Last year for Baltimore, he could only muster 4.5 but at age 33 still remains a dangerous pass rushing threat. Za'Darious Smith would probably be the best pick but given his back injury last year and what I'd expect to be a large asking price, I don't think he fits the "realistic" definition of this exercise.
The candidates: Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith Schuster, Jarvis Landry, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Will Fuller, Sammy Watkins, Keelan Cole
The match: None - DRAFT
- This crop of WR's isn't what the Cardinals need opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, Jameson Williams or Chris Olave should be the choice at #23 if still on the board. Both are immediate upgrades from AJ Green and both possess the ability to one day take over for Hopkins, as he plays next year at age 30.