With six months to go before the start of the NFL regular season, the Arizona Cardinals have won the NFC West when it comes to free agency moves.
According to NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling, the Cardinals received an A for their offseason moves, most notably the acquisition of Chandler Jones from the New England Patriots.
After pressuring Cam Newton on a season-low 20.7 percent of dropbacks in the NFC Championship Game, the Cardinals watched the Broncos‘ pass rush dominate the league’s MVP en route to the Super Bowl 50 title. Coach Bruce Arians came away convinced that the most pressing offseason priority on an otherwise stacked roster was a disruptive edge rusher. Noting that “pass rushers don’t grow on trees,” general manager Steve Keim shipped draft bust Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick to New England for 2015 Pro Bowler Chandler Jones. Colts coach Chuck Pagano quipped last month that “Von Millers ain’t falling out of the sky.” Arizona just added an athletic pass rusher with 30 sacks over the past three years, the same number Miller has posted over that span.
Wesseling said the Cardinals have bolstered the secondary by importing Tyvon Branch. He added that Arizona general manager Steve Keim tweaked the offensive line by replacing Cooper with, “savvy run-blocking guard Evan Mathis while allowing last year’s first round pick, D.J. Humphries to replace Bobby Massie at right tackle.”
Wesseling also credited the Cardinals resigning Chris Johnson, Jermaine Gresham and Drew Stanton. He added, “The NFC West’s strongest team just got stronger.”
As for the rest of the division, Wesseling gave the San Francisco 49ers an incomplete, saying the 49ers did well in re-signing Ian Williams yet entered free agency with over $60 million in cap space and have managed to only signed guard Zane Beadles. He added that until the Colin Kaepernick situation is settled, it’s not worth giving the team a grade.
Wesseling gave Seattle a C while giving Los Angeles a D+.