CARDINALS CORNER

Bidwill: Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort has resources necessary to attack free agency

Feb 23, 2024, 11:12 AM | Updated: 11:31 am

The Arizona Cardinals turned quite a few heads this past season despite being at a clear talent deficit with a whole lot of rookies thrust into meaningful roles from the jump.

A 4-13 record isn’t anything to be jumping for joy about, but plenty of growth was noticeably made.

Now, it’s all about building upon the successes that came out of last year to keep those good feelings churning out of Tempe. A good way to do just that is through free agency, where the Cardinals are expected to busy under second-year general manager Monti Ossenfort.

“When you look at going into this free agency period, I don’t know exactly where we’re going to spend, but Monti knows he has the resources to go out there and get the job done,” Bidwill told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “We’ve talked about that at length. He’s going to be smart about it.

“We know we’re close and we also know there’s been some changes in the NFC West and it’s time for us to really take advantage of this opportunity.”

Last season, it was more about filling a roster depleted from the previous regime’s transgressions with more risk-free options — short-term and inexpensive athletes — rather than going out and adding a handful of legit playmakers that could really move the needle for Arizona at any of its main areas of weaknesses.

That’s not to say Arizona didn’t strike gold in inside linebacker and 2023 leading tackler Kyzir White, but he was by far the biggest splash in last year’s class on a cost-effective two-year, $10 million deal. And he was also one of only a few outside additions to actually land a multi-year deal.

At a glance, cornerback, defensive line, wide receiver and pass rusher had the biggest discrepancies last season. The needs are clearly there and with nearly $44 million in effective cap space to spend as of Friday, there is going to be money to spend. The NFL implementing a $30 million increase in salary cap — up $255.4 million from $224.8 million in 2023 — certainly helps.

There’s also a good chance that number increases by Arizona freeing up even more cap space through releases. For example, moving on from offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, who likely won’t play for much of the year after suffering a torn ACL late in 2023, would create nearly $16 million in cap space attached with a dead-money hit of $6.9 million.

And while Ossenfort told Bickley & Marotta on Thursday that Arizona is ultimately going to build upwards through the NFL Draft, hitting on a few free agents — regardless of which position of need it is — can go a long way in taking that next big step forward in 2024.

Bidwill believes Ossenfort is the right man for the job.

“I know we got a great one (in Ossenfort). You just look at the last year, the great success we had in free agency and in the draft and some of the moves that he made throughout the season,” Bidwill said Friday. “Looking now, we’re just a couple of weeks from free agency and I’m super excited about his plan going into free agency.

“We don’t know exactly what it is, because we’re not sure which players will be on the market, but I know we’re going to be very active.”

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