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ESPN’s Yates: Deciding on free agents is Cardinals’ biggest upcoming roster decision

Arizona Cardinals' Chandler Jones watches the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Raiders defeated the Cardinals 31-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It was occasionally talked about but not often fretted over during the preseason, but it was widely understood that the roster the Cardinals fielded this season was likely to be a one-shot deal.

Arguably the most talented in the franchise’s history, there are many key veterans and free agents who may not be back next season, so therefore it was almost a “now or never” proposition for the team.

Eight games into the campaign, the Cardinals are leaning toward “never,” though at 3-4-1 they are not at all out of the playoff picture. But whether they turn things around and make a postseason run or not, the fact that the Cardinals are likely to look much different next season will not change, and ESPN’s Field Yates, in an Insider piece going over the biggest upcoming roster decision for all 32 teams, pointed to that for Arizona.

About those free agents: The Cardinals have had a disappointing start to their season after many (myself included) forecasted them as a Super Bowl favorite. They’re still very much in the NFC West mix, but a notable offseason is just around the corner. The team acquired pass-rusher Chandler Jones, a free agent after the season, in a trade this offseason and now must work hard to retain him (perhaps via the franchise tag), with other key free agents that include safety Tony Jefferson and defensive lineman Calais Campbell.

Besides the players Yates mentioned, other notable Cardinals whose contracts will be up include tight end Jermaine Gresham, receiver Michael Floyd, running back Andre Ellington, linebacker Kevin Minter, center A.Q. Shipley, guard Earl Watford, cornerback Marcus Cooper and defensive lineman Frostee Rucker.


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