The Athletic: Arizona Cardinals’ biggest position of need is defensive line
The Arizona Cardinals are in the midst of the league’s free agency period and the NFL Draft is slated right behind on April 28-30.
General manager Steve Keim still has some work to do in terms of filling out the roster for the 2022 season.
He has a few options over the next five weeks when it comes to addressing some positions of need: a trade, free agency and the draft.
The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones deemed defensive line as the biggest position of need for the Cardinals following the departure of franchise sack leader Chandler Jones.
This need grew more urgent after Chandler Jones signed with the Raiders. Jones’ departure wasn’t necessarily unexpected, but it leaves a glaring void at edge rusher. The Cardinals could address the position in the draft, but it should be imperative for general manager Steve Keim to scour the pass-rusher market in the second wave of free agency to see if he can add a productive player at a better value than what it would have cost to bring back Jones.
Jones departed the Valley to sign a three-year, $51 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders after spending six seasons in Arizona.
While Jones totaled 71.5 sacks in 84 games for the Cardinals, he had the lowest tally (10.5) this past season out of the five years in which he played at least six games. And five of those came in Week 1’s win over the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.
Markus Golden led the team last year with 11 sacks in 16 games (five starts). The next-closest Cardinal was nowhere near the duo, as Zach Allen only had 4.0 in 15 games (14 starts).
Linebacker Jordan Hicks’ 4.0 sacks in 17 games and DL Jordan Phillips’ 3.0 sacks in nine games ranked tied for third and fifth on the team last year, respectively. However, Hicks signed with the Minnesota Vikings and Phillips signed with Buffalo Bills earlier this month in free agency.
Defensive end George Karlaftis out of Purdue and edge rushers Jermaine Johson of Florida State and David Ojabo (Michigan) have been heavily picked to the Cardinals in mock drafts collected by ArizonaSports.com.