CARDINALS CORNER

Tracking NFL free agency and how the Cardinals are impacted

Mar 12, 2024, 10:00 PM | Updated: Mar 13, 2024, 5:09 pm

The new league year doesn’t begin until Wednesday, though NFL free agency is already off and running with the “legal tampering” window officially open.

But what do the free agent moves across the NFL mean for the Arizona Cardinals?

A look at some of the agreements and reports that’ll impact how the Cardinals navigate free agency:

Cardinals sign Jonah Williams to two-year deal

The Cardinals swung for starting tackle Jonah Williams on Wednesday, adding him on a two-year deal, according to Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Williams gives Arizona another versatile option alongside Paris Johnson Jr.

As far as who will play where, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports that the latter will slide over to left tackle and Williams will set up on the right.

Cardinals releasing D.J. Humphries to free cap space

The Cardinals decided to part ways with long time tackle D.J. Humphries in a cap-saving move that frees up $15.9 million.

Humphries was the team’s longest tenured player after spending nine years in the desert. He went down with a torn ACL late in 2023 and is expected to miss a significant amount of time in 2024.

While he brought a great locker room presence and was a four-time captain, the writing was on the wall for a departure given the savings and his health status.

Danielle Hunter heads to Houston

Another top tier pass rusher is off the board with former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter agreeing to terms on a two-year deal worth a reported $49 million with the Texans.

Yes, the pass-rushing pool got that much smaller, but there was also no way the Cardinals were about to shell out that kind of dough, especially with Monday’s spending.

Diontae Johnson traded to Panthers

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson and a seventh-round pick were reportedly traded to Carolina in exchange for defensive back Donte Jackson and a sixth-rounder.

Given what the Cardinals have draft-wise, they definitely could have entertained that kind of deal, though general manager Monti Ossenfort is big on using the NFL Draft to build up the roster for sustained success.

There’s also more than enough wide receiver prospects to consider this April.

Keith Ismael, Cardinals agree to extension

The offensive lineman returns to the Cardinals on a one-year deal after appearing in 13 games last year.

He served solely as a special teamer, though could give Arizona another option at center behind Hjalte Froholdt while also providing guard depth.

DeeJay Dallas agrees to terms with Cardinals

The former Seahawk is off to the desert following four years in Seattle.

The terms of the deal are not yet known.

Dallas adds depth to the backend of the running backs room, though will likely get more run as a special teams specialist.

Across 17 games played, Dallas returned 25 punts for 265 yards and averaged 10.6 yards per punt. He also recorded 17 kick returns for 440 yards, averaging 25.9 per kick.

Leki Fotu agrees to terms with New York Jets

Fotu is off to the Big Apple after reportedly agreeing to terms with the Jets on Tuesday.

The 2020 fourth-round pick is coming off a career year with 2.5 sacks and five tackles for loss in 11 games played.

But with the continued roster churning by the new regime, he was viewed as one of the odd men out this offseason.

Blake Gillikin, Cardinals agree to terms on 2-year deal

Gillikin has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Arizona.

The punter was a great midseason pick-up last year and was viewed as a good candidate for a re-signing. In 13 games, he averaged 50.6 yards per punt and had a long of 77.

In addition to his punting duties, Gillikin proved valuable as a holder for kicker Matt Prater.

Krys Barnes, Cardinals agree to terms on 1-year deal

The inside linebacker is back with Arizona after announcing on Instagram that he is returning on a one-year deal.

Barnes provided solid depth at inside linebacker and appeared in 16 games and started six of those matchups last year with midseason injuries impacting the middle of the formation.

He should continue to do just that in a room highlighted by White and second-year pro Owen Pappoe.

Commanders agree to terms with LB Frankie Luvu

Luvu had been viewed by ESPN’s Matt Bowen as the best free agent fit for the Cardinals earlier this offseason but instead reportedly agrees to terms on a three-year deal with the Washington Commanders.

Adding a talent like Luvu could have gone a long way in shoring up the middle of the defense alongside MIKE backer Kyzir White, especially with the linebacker coming off 125 tackles, 5.5 sacks, five passes defensed and 11 QB hits.

But at the end of the day, money talks. And you better believe there was a lot of chatter behind that three-year deal worth $36 million.

LB Mack Wilson agrees to terms with Cardinals

Wilson marked yet another outside free agent to agree to terms on a three-year deal with the Cardinals. The contract is worth $12.8 million and could reach $15 million with incentives.

The linebacker showed he can play both off the edge and out in coverage last season, recording 37 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed in 17 games played for the New England Patriots.

He reached those totals playing just 27% of the available defensive snaps (305), while also appearing in 68% of special teams reps (312).

Wilson could very well help solidify the inside linebacker spot opposite Kyzir White on top of being an option to rush the passer if need be.

He gives the room that’s highlighted by White, Owen Pappoe an added veteran presence to the position.

Cardinals agree to terms with DT Justin Jones

Jones was the second defensive tackle to reportedly agree to terms with the Cardinals on Monday and provides an upgrade along the interior.

Ranked as the 36th-best free agent by The Athletic, Jones is coming off a career year that included 4.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 17 QB hits.

He projects as a starter in Arizona after starting every game for the Bears the past two years.

Greg Dortch to re-sign with Cardinals

One of the least surprising updates of the day came from Dortch himself, who confirmed he was heading back to Arizona on a one-year deal.

An exclusive rights free agent, Dortch was unable to negotiate with other teams once the Cardinals extended a one-year tender to the wideout.

Dortch has proven he can help move the needle offensively and as a return man.

He’s coming off 24 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns in 2023 on top of serving as Arizona’s primary punt and kick returner across 16 games played.

Dortch’s return should nearly fill Arizona’s slot needs alongside Rondale Moore.

DT Bilal Nichols, Cardinals agree to terms

Nichols and the Cardinals agreed on a three-year deal worth $21 million with $14.4 million guaranteed.

Given Arizona’s current makeup Nichols figures to slot into a meaningful rotational role along the defensive line after starting all 17 games the past two seasons with Las Vegas.

Arizona’s defensive line reconstruction is far from over, with more bodies needed to properly implement defensive coordinator Nick Rallis’ rotation up front, though landing Nichols on a manageable three-year deal should help in the availability department.

Cardinals agree to terms with CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

The first reported outside addition for the Cardinals this free agency is former Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting.

Murphy-Bunting brings some experience to a cornerbacks room littered with youth.

He likely slides in as the team’s No. 2 cornerback with more moves expected at a position that needs a revamp, though he will get the chance to compete for the top spot this training camp.

Kirk Cousins agrees to terms with Atlanta Falcons

A big quarterback domino fell Monday morning with the four-year contract agreement worth $180 million between former Minnesota Viking Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons.

That firmly removes the Falcons as a quarterback-needy team and potential trade-up candidate this 2024 NFL Draft where the Cardinals currently hold the No. 4 overall pick.

Cousins heading to Atlanta also signals one less veteran quarterback on the market.

If you’re the Patriots, who are desperate for a signal caller after dealing Mac Jones to the Jacksonville Jaguars this past weekend, the veteran quarterback options are drying up quick with all signs pointing to the Pats drafting a QB — not Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. — this April.

DT Christian Wilkins to sign with Las Vegas Raiders

An absolute bully along the interior of the defensive line, Wilkins and the Raiders reportedly agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth $110 million on Monday.

Wilkins was among the most intriguing free-agent options for the Cardinals to consider this offseason after racking up nine sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 23 QB hits in 2023.

That’s a lot of cheddar to shell out, though, and even if the Cardinals were big on him, that’s just too much to spend at one position with where the Cardinals currently stand roster-wise.

DL Jonathan Greenard agrees to terms with Minnesota Vikings

Much like Wilkins, Greenard would have checked quite a few boxes when it came to Arizona’s pass rush following 12.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 22 QB hits across 15 games played last season.

Instead, he’s headed to the Vikings on a reported four-year deal worth $76 million.

Again, the Cardinals aren’t one player away and allocating that much money on one signing could really impact Arizona’s roster construction at other positions of need.

Bengals WR Tee Higgins requests trade out of Cincinnati

Not a huge surprise, but Higgins has reportedly requested a trade after the Bengals designated the franchise tag on the wideout last week.

After posting back-to-back seasons of at least 1,000 yards and six touchdowns from 2021-22, the wide receiver reeled in 42 catches for 656 yards and five scores this past season.

Higgins is a name to keep tabs on as the offseason rolls on, especially with Arizona holding three draft picks inside the top-35 that could be included in a deal if the Cardinals are really that interested.

The Cardinals likely won’t make that type of move with their No. 4 overall pick. But Nos. 27 and 35 could be a different story if it means landing a No. 1 wide receiver and he doesn’t absolutely break the bank with the pay day he’s after.

If this were to materialize before the draft, though, all signs point to the Cardinals not taking a wide receiver prospect like Harrison, Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze.

Cardinals agree to re-sign Trystan Colon

Colon and the Cardinals reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million early Monday morning.

Colon filled in due to injury last season, appearing in 14 games. He made four starts at left guard and provides added depth to the OL room.

Cardinals re-sign DL L.J. Collier

Collier is back in Arizona on a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.

Arizona was high on Collier last offseason before a biceps injury ended his season after one game.

Despite the small sample size, the Cardinals opted to bring the lineman back on a one-year deal that doesn’t break the bank.

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Tracking NFL free agency and how the Cardinals are impacted