ARIZONA CARDINALS

PFF’s Linsey: WR Robby Anderson a prime free agent target for Cardinals

Mar 4, 2020, 6:14 AM | Updated: 4:01 pm
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) splits the defense between Miami Dolphins defensive...
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson (11) splits the defense between Miami Dolphins defensive back Nik Needham (40) and free safety Adrian Colbert (36) to score a touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Arizona Cardinals need one of two things in a receiver: a take-the-top-off deep threat or a jump-ball receiver. Preferably, they find both.

They can hope that 2019 draft picks Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler end up plugging those holes, but free agency and the draft will hit before Arizona can gain confidence that either of them is headed for a breakout second season.

If Cardinals general manager Steve Keim wants that hole patched before the draft, then Pro Football Focus’ Ben Linsey writes for ESPN that New York Jets receiver Robby Anderson should be a priority target.

The Cardinals aren’t the first team that comes to mind for Anderson, but it’s a fit that makes a lot of sense for the Cards and for the 26-year-old wide receiver. The Cardinals need a reliable field-stretcher and top option, with Larry Fitzgerald set to enter next season at 37 years old. Anderson fits the bill, having hauled in 37 passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield since 2016 (11th at position) despite shaky quarterback play in New York. The bonus for Anderson is that he gets to play with Kyler Murray, last season’s No. 1 pick, who ranked seventh in the NFL in passing grade on throws of 20 or more yards downfield as a rookie.

Anderson has surpassed 587 yards in each of his four seasons with quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown and Sam Darnold leading the Jets.

Last year, he caught 52 balls on 96 targets for 779 yards and five touchdowns and at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, he has the speed and size to be a top option.

At 26 years old, Anderson should have a lot of football ahead of him. The question is how much he’ll cost.

Before last season, he was a restricted free agent and signed a one-year tender worth $3.1 million to remain with the Jets.

This year, a multi-year contract could land him a contract upward of $10 million per season.

The Cardinals have the money to pull off such a deal if they choose, but that money could be spent elsewhere if they believe the draft will land them receiver talent at a better value. The class of wideouts is regarded as one of the deepest in recent memory, and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf that he has 30 receivers with third-round talent or better.

The creme of the crop led by Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb could all be on the draft board and available when Arizona picks eighth.

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