ESPN’s Barnwell has Cardinals needs of TE, CB as deep positions in FA

Mar 7, 2022, 7:06 PM

Tight end Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football after a reception against t...

Tight end Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football after a reception against the Green Bay Packers during the second half of the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on October 28, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Packers defeated the Cardinals 24-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of their own free agents to sort through, and thus have a lot of potential needs on the roster depending on how all that shakes out.

As is always the case with free agency, some of the deciding factors will be the price tag on those names, the value of those contracts and the market at that position.

With that in mind, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell went through a very helpful exercise outlining what he believes are the deepest and thinnest positions in free agency.

Two of his three deepest are cornerback and tight end, positions where he correctly lists the Cardinals as a team with a need there.

To start at tight end, Barnwell writes “this is arguably the deepest class of free agents at the position in NFL history.”

Quite the proclamation.

Barnwell breaks down the free agents or potential free agents into five groups: stars, starters, regulars, players returning from injury and players who could be cut due to cap concerns for their respective teams.

He lists one star, Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski, before getting to six starters and a sky-high 17 regulars. One of those starters is Cardinals free agent Zach Ertz.

Barnwell has the Cardinals as one of his five teams that need to act on that tight end market.

In Arizona, the Cardinals have to evaluate whether their cap situation will allow them to bring back Ertz, who caught 56 passes for 574 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games after joining via trade in October. Ertz seemed to be fading over his last season-plus in Philadelphia, but the 31-year-old was seventh in receiving yards and yards per target and eighth in yards per route run after his move out West. He still looks to have enough in the tank to justify one more multiyear deal. I wonder if the Seahawks might attempt to steal a player from their divisional rivals.

The important tidbit in there that Barnwell mentions is the Cardinals’ cap situation, which is already a situation with not much wiggle room that is going to get hairier after every new deal Arizona agrees to.

But, to the whole point of Barnwell’s piece, perhaps Arizona could get a reasonable price on Ertz because of other names in his tier like Minnesota’s Tyler Conklin, Miami’s Mike Gesicki and Dallas’ Dalton Schultz, plus the depth beyond them.

There’s also Maxx Williams to consider under the players returning from injury group. The 27-year-old was on pace for a career year.

At cornerback, Barnwell has two stars, seven starters and 12 regulars. Among the regulars is Arizona free agent Robert Alford, who was one of three Cardinals starters at corner along with Byron Murphy and rookie Marco Wilson.

The potential departure of Alford and Wilson’s inconsistent play is why Barnwell puts the Cardinals under the group of teams that need to bring in help at cornerback.

This group is different than tight end, though, as Barnwell has nine teams with a need there, over a quarter of the league. While there are lots of quality names for the Cardinals to comb through, it could be competitive to bring someone in.

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ESPN’s Barnwell has Cardinals needs of TE, CB as deep positions in FA