PFF: Arizona Cardinals should target CB Charvarius Ward in free agency
The Arizona Cardinals’ depth at cornerback was undoubtedly exploited over the final stretch of games, highlighted by a 34-11 throttling by the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round on Monday.
There’s certainly moves to be made this offseason at the position, whether through free agency or the 2022 NFL Draft.
As far as Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger is concerned, Arizona should pursue Kansas City cornerback Charvarius Ward this free agency period.
Arizona reportedly wants to bring back cornerback Robert Alford, but he will be 34 in 2022 and has dealt with various injuries. Ward would be a good fit on the outside opposite 2021 rookie Marco Wilson and slot cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., with three straight seasons grading out at 64.8 or better despite often battling the opponent’s top receiving weapon.
In 13 games played this regular season, Ward recorded two interceptions and 10 passes defensed to go along with 67 tackles. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card round, the corner had six tackles and a pass defensed.
Per PFF, Ward allowed a 77 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks and gave up 12.6 yards per reception on his way to a grade of 65.7.
That along with Ward’s nine games of postseason experience makes the cornerback an intriguing option for any DB-needy team once he hits free agency.
Aside from seeing Ward’s arrival to the desert in Spielberger’s free-agent look, he believes two 2021 Cardinals in wide receiver Christian Kirk and tight end Maxx Williams should be looked out elsewhere.
For Kirk, the Cardinals’ leading pass catcher in receiving yards in 2021, that’s the Chicago Bears.
The Cardinals moved Kirk into the slot this season to deploy him as a field-stretching vertical threat over the middle, and he set career highs across the board with 77 receptions for 984 yards and a 72.7 PFF grade. A similar role in Chicago would make for a great one-two punch with (wide receiver Darnell Mooney) out wide.
Williams on the other hand, his services could fill in nicely with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The signing would once again pair Williams with tight end Dan Arnold, who were teammates for 19 games over the course of two seasons in Arizona (2019-2020), and give signal caller Trevor Lawrence another weapon to work with.
Before going down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 5, Williams recorded 16 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown. Soon after, Arizona acquired Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, who is also a free agent.
Arnold and Williams are polar opposites in terms of tight end play, with Arnold a wiry 220 pounds and Williams a solid 252. They’d make a solid pairing in two-tight end sets, and Williams showed this year that he’s more than just a blocking tight end, with his 78.8 grade through Week 5 ranking fifth among tight ends and his 8.0 yards after the catch per reception ranking sixth.