ESPN: Cardinals’ bold offseason move should be prioritizing OL

Mar 5, 2023, 8:05 AM
Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort speaks with reporters during his introductory press conference...
Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort speaks with reporters during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals paid quarterback Kyler Murray a boatload of money last offseason.

Protecting that asset will be key for Arizona moving forward, especially with Murray coming off a torn ACL.

That’s one of the main reasons why Football Outsiders suggest the Cardinals make the offensive line their top priority in ESPN’s bold offseason moves for all 32 teams published Friday.

Incoming head coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing already know that Kyler Murray’s torn ACL won’t be fully healed when the season starts, and Colt McCoy will also miss part of the offseason with his own undisclosed injury. Whoever ends up taking snaps this season will need protection, and that’s something the Cardinals can’t offer right now.

With new league year approaching on March 15, the Cardinals are set to watch three starting offensive lineman hit free agency in Justin Pugh, Will Hernandez and Kelvin Beachum, who was the only offensive player to start every game last year.

The future of center Rodney Hudson also remains very much in the air after he contemplated retirement last offseason before appearing in just four games due to injury.

The only known Cardinals starter returning to the line in 2023 is D.J. Humphries, who is coming off a back injury that saw him play just eight games last season. He finished the year on injured reserve. Josh Jones is another name that could see more work at one of the tackle spots after flashing in place of the injured Humphries last season.

For new general manager Monti Ossenfort, there are a few avenues to go down in revamping the offensive line, starting with free agency.

As it stands Friday, Arizona has around $13.8 million in available cap space, per

That number could increase with the release of wide receiver Chosen Anderson, which would save the Cardinals $12 million in cap space. Trading DeAndre Hopkins would also bring in some cap savings on top of added draft resources, although the deal would result in taking on a dead money hit of $22.6 million (before or on June 1) in 2023 or $11.3 million (after June 1) in each of the next two seasons.

If the Chiefs don’t franchise-tag him, Orlando Brown would be the best lineman available, and Arizona should be among his top suitors. Taylor Lewan and George Fant are starting-caliber players, though both missed time with injuries last season. Mike McGlinchey has had his own injury concerns (like most 49ers players) but stealing talent from a division rival is usually a good thing. Safer options include Rodger Saffold (108 starts in his past seven seasons with the Rams, Titans and Bills) and Connor McGovern (79 starts in five seasons with the Jets and Broncos).

Then there’s the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, where the Cardinals hold the No. 3 pick.

It’s highly unlikely Arizona reaches for an OL prospect at third overall, but if they decide to trade down and further stockpile draft capital, there are a few names in Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, Ohio State’s Paris Johnson Jr. or Georgia’s Broderick Jones to consider with later selections.

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ESPN: Cardinals’ bold offseason move should be prioritizing OL