Chris Johnson is back, but what’s next for Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim?
The Arizona Cardinals, maybe unsurprisingly, re-signed running back Chris Johnson to a one-year deal Thursday, the day before the team reports to training camp in Glendale.
Moves at this late stage of the offseason are nothing new for Arizona general manager Steve Keim. Since taking over the reins of the Cardinals’ football operations in 2013, Keim has made such maneuvers practically a yearly occurrence.
So what’s next? Could the Cardinals continue to add players to their roster as they try to recapture the NFC West crown after a disappointing 2016?
NFL insider John Clayton joined Doug and Wolf Friday morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station to discuss some of the still unsigned free agents that could make some sense for Keim to call.
Clayton started with Perry Riley, a linebacker who spent last season with Oakland and started 11 games, registering 48 total tackles.
“He’s going to be very cheap, minimum salary,” Clayton said. “He hasn’t re-signed with Oakland and I was surprised about that.”
The longtime NFL scribe also mentioned veteran Paul Kruger, a 31-year-old defensive end/outside linebacker, who had a less-than-productive season in New Orleans last year.
But the position that may make the most sense for Keim and the Cardinals to focus on could be cornerback. All-Pro Patrick Peterson patrols one side of the field, but the team has had trouble locking down the other corner spot. Last season, Keim swung a deal with Kansas City after training camp to acquire Marcus Cooper, who played decently and was a Pro Bowl alternate. Cooper used his opportunity in the desert to attract a nice free agent contract from the Chicago Bears this offseason.
Veteran Justin Bethel, second-year player Brandon Williams and Canadian product Elie Bouka appear to be the in-house front-runners for the position as camp begins. But there are some intriguing names left on the market, as Clayton pointed out.
“Alterraun Verner, who had been let go by Tampa Bay, that’s one I kind of wonder about because they do need some help at corner,” Clayton said.
Verner, 28, spent the last three seasons with the Buccaneers, racking up 148 total tackles, 20 passes defended and four interceptions in 46 games. Prior to landing in Tampa Bay, Verner spent four seasons with the Tennessee Titans and was a Pro Bowler in 2013 when he had 57 tackles, 22 passes defended and five interceptions. He parlayed that into a four-year, $25.75 million deal with the Bucs, but was cut in February.
“To me, Verner is one of the best corners on the street,” Clayton said.