The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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Who's Next For the Cardinals?

The Arizona Cardinals have not lacked for activity at the start of training camp.

Their most recent activity was agreeing to a contract extension with left tackle DJ Humphries.

Humphries has been a fixture of the Cardinals offensive line since cracking the starting lineup in his second year and his signing makes total sense. While not one of the NFL's best tackles, Humphries is good which is why he got a good contract and not a great one.

More than his value, it also prevents the Cardinals from overhauling their ENTIRE offensive line next offseason. With DJ Humphries locked up, the Cardinals may still have 3 or 4 new offensive lineman next year but at least Kyler Murray's blind side protector will not be in doubt.

The next decision for the Cardinals may not be as easy.

Lining up behind Kyler Murray and DJ Humphries for new deals are a handful of important Cardinals. Here's how I'd rank the list of players from most likely to get a new deal before the season starts:

1. Marquise Brown

  • Are we watching another stealth "hold in" in front of our eyes? Like Humphries, Brown's absence from camp has been explained away with an injury. After his activation from the injured list, Kliff Kingsbury said it might not be until next Monday that Brown is a full go. Huh, that's weird. Meanwhile five members of his draft class at WR have received massive new deals this offseason and Brown was the highest drafted WR from that year. So instead of watching the WR market explode and sit back and watch, doesn't it stand to reason that Brown will want to be paid now? And wouldn't it behoove the Cardinals to act now to eliminate any issues with Kyler and the offense? After giving up a first round pick for Brown, the Cardinals don't have much of a choice other than making it harder on themselves. Let's hope the Cardinals and Brown join the WR spending party soon.

2. Jalen Thompson

  • Thompson is one of the most underrated players in the NFL and let's hope that doesn't include the Cardinals. The defensive staff is reportedly trusting Thompson to wear the green dot for defense this season, giving him many of the play calling responsibilities but hasn't yet shown their trust financially. His pairing in the defensive backfield with Budda Baker gives the Cardinals a physical edge that helps set the tone for the entire unit. While paying both safety spots top of the market deals might be crazy in a traditional NFL, in today's game safeties are instrumental defensively against modern offensive attacks.. Jalen Thompson would be a wise extension for Steve Keim and company.

3. Byron Murphy

  • This is where the list drops off a bit. I don't think Murphy is an urgent deal that has to get done now. In fact, for every player on this list below the top 2, it would be completely justified for the Cardinals to play the waiting game unless said player was willing to give a noticeable discount. Murphy has struggled at outside corner and thrived in the slot. This year, the Cardinals preference may be for him to stay in the slot but necessity may require them to play him outside. I would guess Murphy would want to be paid as a CB1 instead of a CB3 but his real value could be as a CB3. Confused yet? That's okay, I'll make it real simple: The Cardinals should only pay Murphy now if he's willing to accept slot corner money.

4. Markus Golden

  • Another example of an important players role changing dramatically, Golden thrived as the pass rusher opposite Chandler Jones the last year, racking up 11.5. Will that change now that Jones is gone? If I were the Cardinals, I'd be more than happy to wait and find out.

5. Kelvin Beachum

  • Beachum has started 31 out of the last 33 games for the Cardinals at right tackle and has been underpaid the entire time. So why isn't he higher on this list? Because you can't pay everybody and at age 33, Beachum remains the least likely to get the big raise he may want. If he's willing to take another big discount, I could see a short term deal getting done to keep the Cardinals tackle duo in tact for a few more years but if he wants to make up for lost money, I'd expect the Cardinals to be happy to let him test next year's market.

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