Cardinals ‘grateful’ for Kelvin Beachum with D.J. Humphries out with ACL tear

Jan 4, 2024, 8:51 AM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 1:17 pm

Kelvin Beachum runs out of the tunnel...

Offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum #68 of the Arizona Cardinals is introduced during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. The Chiefs defeated the Cardinals 44-21. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Kelvin Beachum has been one of the most consistent Arizona Cardinals since arriving to the desert in 2020.

No matter if he’s starting all 48 of his games played across the first three seasons with the Cardinals or filling in as a backup in Year 4, the veteran offensive lineman gives Arizona a trusted option.

He did just that filling for D.J. Humphries for Arizona’s win over the Atlanta Falcons earlier in the season. And he’ll do it again once more in the Cardinals’ season finale after Humphries was diagnosed with a torn ACL suffered in the team’s Week 17 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Losing Humphries is undoubtedly a tough blow for this year — and next.

Having a guy like Beachum at least softens the hit as Arizona looks to end the season on a high note against the Seattle Seahawks.

“He’s been fantastic. We’re very grateful to have him in the role that he plays,” head coach Jonathan Gannon said Wednesday of Beachum. “He’ll be our starting left tackle. He’s the ultimate team guy, a guy that provides really good leadership for the young guys.

“He’s a guy I talk to a lot. I bounce things off of him because he’s been around the block and I’m glad we have him. He’ll step in there and play well.”

With D.J. Humphries ACL injury, the Cardinals need more than a quick fix

Given the timing of the injury, Humphries being ready for the start of next season is out of the question.

Just going off quarterback Kyler Murray’s nearly 11-month recovery timeline from his own torn ACL — which should be viewed as a best-case scenario — a Humphries return wouldn’t happen until early November, well into the 2024 regular season. But then again, not every ACL tear is the same.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Gannon said. “You guys know the timetable for that, but I know he’ll attack it. And like I said and like I told him, he’ll be back better than ever.”

Luckily for the Cardinals, Beachum signed on for two more years last offseason, cementing him in for at least another season.

That signing is looking a whole lot bigger now than it did in 2023, as Beachum should slide into a starting role opposite rookie Paris Johnson Jr.

While Beachum should see time at left tackle Sunday, whether he’s on the left or right side next season is up for debate.

2024 NFL Draft implications

In addition to impacting the season finale and subsequent games next year, the Humphries injury also potentially throws a twist in Arizona’s 2024 NFL Draft plans.

Knowing they’re going to be without Humphries for an extended period in addition to understanding he’ll have just one more year left on his current deal, general manager Monti Ossenfort and Co. could find it opportunistic to land the lineman’s heir apparent.

There’s also the fact that the Cardinals could add some serious cap space if they decide to move on from Humphries.

In 2024 and 2025, Humphries carries a cap hit of nearly $23 million.

Per OverTheCap, getting him off the books with a June 1 designation could free up around $9 million, though Compare Bet’s Kyle Odegard writes that the lineman could qualify for an injury protection benefit that would pay Humphries $2.05 million and bring with it an additional cap hit of $1.23 million in 2024. There would also be a dead-money hit of around $15 million.

Still, the freed-up cap space could go a long way in shoring up the offensive line or other positions of need.

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