CARDINALS CORNER

Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort expecting trade calls to heat up as NFL Draft closes in

Feb 27, 2024, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:18 pm

Monti Ossenfort looks on...

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort moved up, down and around through the top half of the 2023 NFL Draft before landing on offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. at No. 6 overall. Could the Cardinals be in store for a similar performance this April from the second-year GM in 2024?

He’s definitely not ruling out any moving and shaking this time around, though acknowledged Tuesday there’s still “a ways to go” before the phone starts ringing and trade talks begin heating up.

“I have not (received any calls on the No. 4 pick),” Ossenfort told reporters at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday. “If you guys hear anything let me know. I’m not surprised, we’re sitting here at the end of February. We got a ways to go on that. I think everybody’s still in the middle of their evaluation process. I think there’s a lot of unknown right now.

“I think those discussions happen more as we get closer to the draft in April and I think that’s what happened last year. We didn’t have a lot of discussions over our pick last year at this time. … I’m sure those calls will come and we’re going to make our fair share of calls, too. Last year we proved we were more than willing to move up, to move back, to stay put and pick. I think those discussions will come a little bit further down the road.”

Given Arizona’s standing in the draft order and the amount of quarterback-needy teams picking behind them, it’s not out of the question by any means that Ossenfort and Co. could command something similar to their 2023 draft-day trade with the Houston Texans that landed them the No. 12 pick — that was later flipped in a trade with the Detroit Lions to nab Johnson — in addition to the No. 27 pick in this year’s draft.

But in that same breath, dealing the No. 4 overall pick would more than likely shut the door on adding potential generational talent and widely regarded top five pick Marvin Harrison Jr.

Decisions, decisions.

Will the Arizona Cardinals light the Dortch in 2024?

Speaking of important decisions Ossenfort and the franchise need to make this offseason, one of them centers around bringing back wide receiver Greg Dortch for a fourth season.

Currently an exclusive rights free agent, Arizona would simply need to extend a qualifying offer — one-year deal for league minimum — to the wideout, which in turn would prevent him from negotiating with other teams.

If the Cardinals decide not to give out a qualifying offer, Dortch would then be free to test the open market.

That scenario seems highly unlikely, though, after hearing Ossenfort’s enthusiasm on Dortch ahead of the 2024 season.

“Greg’s made a lot of plays before I got here, Greg made a lot of plays when he got his opportunity,” Ossenfort said Tuesday. “Greg’s a guy who’s always ready to take advantage of whatever opportunities he gets.

“Greg does a great job for us, Greg’s tough, he’s physical after the catch for a smaller guy. He took a step as a punt returner last year. Greg made a lot of plays for us and he’s gonna make a lot of plays for us next year.”

In his third season with the Cardinals, Dortch reeled in 24 of 41 targets for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He also took a step forward as a return man, taking back 29 punts for 275 yards and 17 kicks for 360 yards.

The latest on Zaven Collins’ fifth-year option

It seems like yesterday when the Cardinals nabbed inside-linebacker-turned-outside-linebacker Zaven Collins with the 16th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Now entering Year 4, Arizona has a big decision to make on the linebacker this May when it comes to picking up or opting against his fifth-year option totaling $13.2 million in 2025.

“I thought Zaven made a lot of great strides throughout the season,” Ossenfort said of Collins, who was moved to pass rusher in 2023. “He was out there for us with a lot of snaps, played the whole year. With him as with all of our players, we expect to see a jump from Year 1 to Year 2. His comfort level and just getting more used to the position.

“In terms of the fifth-year option, we got some time on that and we’re going to continue to figure that out as we go. We got a couple months to figure that out. And then it’s a part of a bigger discussion as it goes to building the roster not only for 2024 but for 2025. We’ll work through that but definitely excited that we have Zaven. … I think he’s going to make another step this year.”

Arizona Cardinals OL D.J. Humphries back to work post-ACL tear

Offensive lineman D.J. Humphries watched his season come to a premature close after tearing an ACL in Week 17. Not only did it impact last year, but his recovery is also expected to go well into the regular season.

“That’s a hard injury. It was too bad and unfortunate for Hump just the timing of the injury and when it happened,” Ossenfort said. “It’s a difficult situation. All I can say is Hump’s been in the facility every day. He’s grinding through rehab and I know he’s going to put himself in the best position to get himself ready to play.”

As far as where Humphries will put himself in the best position to succeed, there’s a good chance it’s not with the Cardinals given the cap savings the team can pick up by releasing the lineman.

With a post-June 1 cut designation, the Cardinals can free up $15.9 million while adding $6.9 million in dead money. That kind of coin could go a long way in adding another impact piece to the roster in 2024.

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