The Arizona Cardinals’ defense was, for the most part, solid in 2014, often keeping the team in the game even while the offense struggled to score points.
But while their secondary was strong and their defensive line was stout, there was an area of weakness: the linebackers.
Last season, the team turned to Larry Foote, Kevin Minter at inside linebacker with Sam Acho and Alex Okafor, mostly, at outside linebacker. The team also mixed in Matt Shaughnessy, Lorenzo Alexander and Glenn Carson at times.
And while Foote played very well and Okafor showed promise as a pass rusher, overall the group was nothing to write home about.
So, it comes as no surprise that the team is looking to upgrade the unit this offseason.
“One of our top priorities, I don’t think it’s a secret, we’d love to find an elite edge rusher,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in late February. “The problem is, when you look at left tackles, pass rushers, quarterbacks, those are the hardest positions to try to find.
“Whether there will be one we can get in free agency for the right price remains to be seen.”
According to Spotrac.com, the Cardinals have nearly $14 million in available salary cap space at this time. That number will go up or down based on other moves that have yet to be made, but in terms of finances, Arizona is not exactly in position to outspend most of the NFL.
So, when you see a list of free agents that includes defensive ends like Jerry Hughes and Greg Hardy along with linebackers Pernell McPhee and Jason Worilds, it’s worth remembering that the Cards are not likely to win any kind of bidding war.
But with free agency set to begin in a few days, it will be interesting to watch just what the Cardinals do. After all, while we cannot be sure of which linebackers or defensive ends they will pursue, we can confidently say they will be kicking the tires looking to upgrade those positions.