CARDINALS CORNER

Arizona Cardinals set to hit NFL free agency in 2024

Mar 10, 2024, 7:15 AM | Updated: Mar 11, 2024, 9:18 am

The new league year is right around the corner, and with it comes the start of NFL free agency. The Arizona Cardinals should be among the most active this offseason given their $45.6 million in effective cap space at the ready.

On top of adding outside talent to a roster with noticeable holes, Arizona must also decide on a group of in-house options that’ll see their contracts expire on Wednesday at 1 p.m. MST when the new league year hits.

Here’s a look at the Cardinals hitting the market, their free agency status and whether or not it makes sense for Arizona to extend a contract offer or not.

Arizona Cardinals 2024 free agents

Hollywood Brown, WR (unrestricted)

Brown is the biggest Cardinals free agent this offseason and is ranked 17th overall by Pro Football Focus after spending the last two years in the desert.

In 26 games played during that span, Brown reeled in 118 catches for 1,283 yards and seven touchdowns.

But after a middle-of-the-road showing in a contract year, there’s a real unknown if a reunion is in the cards, especially if Brown is looking to be paid like a No. 1 wide receiver.

That’s not to say there isn’t a way for the two sides to come together, though it would likely have to be on a one-year prove-it deal that won’t break the bank for Arizona.

Geoff Swaim, TE (unrestricted)

The veteran tight end may not have wowed on the stat sheet — 10 catches for 94 yards in 14 appearances — but he did bring a valuable voice to the tight ends room that was leaned on by both teammates and coaches.

He also provided Arizona with a legit blocking tight end that helped move the needle in the run game.

Bringing him back on a similar one-year, $1.7 million deal that he signed last offseason should be a no-brainer for general manager Monti Ossenfort.

Ezekiel Turner, LB (unrestricted)

Turner has been a member of the Cardinals since signing with the franchise as an undrafted rookie out of Washington in 2018.

He’s proven his worth to coordinator Jeff Rodgers as a trusted special teamer and provides added depth at linebacker.

Reupping with Turner on a similar one-year, $2 million contract is a move Arizona should make.

Greg Dortch, WR (exclusive rights free agent)

Dortch continued to make the most of his offensive opportunities when given the chance in 2023, recording 24 catches on 41 targets for 280 yards and two touchdowns.

He also set career marks as a return man, taking back 29 punts for 275 yards and 17 kicks for 360 yards.

Given Dortch’s usage in both the offense and return game on top of his low-risk price tag as an exclusive rights free agent, re-signing the wide receiver is among the easiest decisions to make for Arizona this offseason. They have already reportedly offered Dortch the tender to keep him from negotiating with other teams.

Carlos Watkins, DL (unrestricted)

Watkins appeared in two games before a biceps injury ended his season prematurely. He recorded seven tackles, a sack, one pass defensed and a QB hit before going down.

While Watkins still had a presence around the training facility post-injury, Arizona might want to spend elsewhere.

Blake Gillikin, P (unrestricted)

A midseason addition, Gillikin absolutely booted the ball for the Cardinals across 13 games, averaging 50.6 yards per punt with a long of 77. He landed the ball inside the 20-yard line twice and also built trust as a holder with kicker Matt Prater.

He also played on a one-year worth $940,000, making him a good candidate to bring back on a cost-effective deal.

Antonio Hamilton Sr., CB (unrestricted)

Hamilton served as the veteran presence in a cornerbacks room littered with young contributors.

He appeared in 14 games (nine starts) for the Cardinals last season, registering 40 tackles, one interception and 11 passes defensed in 2023.

The cornerback also continued to be a contributor on special teams, seeing 45% of the available snaps last year.

Bringing back Hamilton on a short-term deal is a possibility, though Arizona will still need to address the cornerbacks room with outside talent via the NFL Draft and free agency. Roster spots could become very limited and that could leave Hamilton as the odd man out.

Jonathan Ledbetter, DL (exclusive rights free agent)

Much like Dortch, re-signing the exclusive rights free agent is a no-brainer move for the Cardinals if healthy.

Ledbetter was an important part of Arizona’s fabric last season. On top of starting 12 games and recording 46 tackles, 1.5 sacks and four QB hits, the lineman was also named the team’s 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for his efforts in the community.

Ledbetter didn’t finish the season healthy due to a knee injury, so that will have be checked up on and considered.

Hayden Howerton, OL (unrestricted)

Howerton did not appear in any games for the Cardinals after being claimed off waivers last offseason.

Aaron Brewer, LS (unrestricted)

A long-time fixture in Arizona’s special teams setup and a trusted confidant to Prater, Brewer should continue his career in the desert.

Josh Woods, LB (unrestricted)

Woods was a big part in helping shore up the middle of the defense alongside Kyzir White, eventually taking over for the MIKE backer when White went down with a season-ending biceps injury.

Seeing a career high in defensive snaps, Woods racked up 61 tackles, a forced fumble, one pass defensed and a QB hit across 11 games played (seven starts) before he would find his way to injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.

With the cupboard pretty bare beyond White and second-year pro Owen Pappoe, re-signing Woods to another one-year deal would at the very least bring some trusted depth to the position.

Elijah Wilkinson, OG (unrestricted)

Wilkinson began last season as Arizona’s starting left guard but went through injury and inconsistency woes throughout a good portion of the season.

He managed to make nine starts in 2023, but Arizona should be looking at external candidates when it comes to filling out guard depth.

Rashad Fenton (unrestricted)

Fenton didn’t appear in a game for the Cardinals last season after being placed on injured reserve in August.

Maybe a practice squad addition, but nothing more.

Pat Elflein, C (unrestricted)

Much like Fenton, Elflein was placed on injured reserve before the season began.

There should be better depth options for the Cardinals to consider, with Jon Gaines II expected to be healthy this season on top of the draft and free agency to consider.

Marlon Mack, RB (unrestricted)

Mack lasted three days with the Cardinals last training camp before a torn Achilles ruined his season.

And with the addition of Michael Carter, plus the emergence of Emari Demercado behind starter James Conner, it’s simply too crowded in the running backs room for a reunion to make sense.

Krys Barnes, LB (unrestricted)

Much like Woods, Barnes was an important depth piece that took on a bigger role at inside linebacker due to injuries.

Barnes appeared in 16 games (six starts) and recorded 55 tackles, one interception and a QB hit in 2023.

Bringing him back on another one-year deal right around $1 million is a good move to make.

Leki Fotu, DL (unrestricted)

Fotu made nine starts for the second straight season to go along with 2.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and two QB hits.

Arizona must address the line with outside additions in free agency and the draft, but re-signing the 2020 fourth-rounder shouldn’t be out of the cards.

Bobby Price, CB (unrestricted)

Price appeared in six games for the Cardinals last season, recording four tackles and a fumble recovery.

A re-signing to the active roster seems unlikely, though he could be a practice squad candidate.

Keith Ismael, OL (restricted)

Claimed off waivers by the Cardinals last August, Ismael appeared in 13 games for Arizona as a special teamer.

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