The 5: Arizona Cardinals’ biggest 2018 roster questions
Once a head coach is hired, the Arizona Cardinals will focus on their next major task: The roster.
Free agency begins in March and the draft is in late April. There’s also the possibility—and perhaps a very likely possibility—of acquiring players via trade.
By whichever means the Cardinals go about assembling 90 players, there are a handful of position groups that need more attention than the others.
Here are the Top 5:
This one goes without saying. For starters, with Carson Palmer’s retirement, the Cardinals do not have a quarterback currently under contract for next season. Matt Barkley, Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton are all unrestricted free agents. And of course, if any team hopes to be successful in this game, solid quarterback play is a must. No other position is more important.
• Offensive Line
Whoever the quarterback is in 2018, they’ll have to be protected. An argument can be made for a complete overhaul of the offensive line. That’s probably unrealistic, though. All five starters — left tackle D.J. Humphries, left guard Mike Iupati, center A.Q. Shipley, right guard Evan Boehm and right tackle Jared Veldheer — are under contract for next season. The problem there is two-fold: 1) they played together as a unit for only one game (Week 1) and 2) Iupati and Veldheer are due to make a lot of money, meaning a pay cut or pink slip may be in their futures.
• Wide Receiver
In 2017, this was the most disappointing group of players, with one exception of course. What was once thought of as a position of strength became a position of weakness. And whether or not Larry Fitzgerald returns in 2018, the Cardinals must make wide receiver a high priority. J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams are the only other pass catchers under contract for next season.
It wouldn’t be an offseason if the Cardinals weren’t seeking a cornerback to play opposite Patrick Peterson. Tramon Williams was the answer during the second half of 2017, and he would be the preferred answer next season. Just one problem: Williams is an unrestricted free agent. That leaves an unproven talent (Brandon Williams) and an unknown talent (Ronald Zamort) as current options.
• Defensive Line
There is good depth at defensive line. Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro, Robert Nkemdiche, Corey Peters and Olsen Pierre will all be back. The returns of Frostee Rucker (unrestricted free agent) and Xavier Williams (restricted) are less certain, however. Regardless, the hole Calais Campbell left with his departure to Jacksonville a year ago has yet to be filled, meaning the position remains on the Cardinals’ to-do list.
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