What roles can veteran WRs Zay Jones, Chris Moore carve out with Cardinals?

Jul 1, 2024, 4:14 PM

TEMPE — Marvin Harrison Jr. is the Arizona Cardinals’ biggest outside addition to the wide receivers room this offseason. He’s not the only newcomer to the position group, though.

In addition to rookies Harrison, Tejhaun Palmer and Xavier Weaver, the Cardinals went out and added even more depth in Zay Jones and Chris Moore, a pair of NFL veterans who wasted little time learning the ropes of the offense.

“I think they’re guys that instantly integrated themselves into the offense and into the team. I think they’re pros,” offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said last Tuesday. “They’ve been around this league a long time, they understand the game, they understand what it takes to be a pro and play at a high level.

“I was pleased with how quickly they jumped in, learned the system, where able to go out there and execute the offense, but also with how they interacted with their teammates, how they went out and had fun and enjoyed playing. I think that’s a really important part of the offseason. You gotta come together and enjoy what you do. I think those two guys enjoy football. That’s one of the reasons why they’re here.”

With at least seven NFL seasons under their belts, they bring added experience to a room littered with young pass catchers.

The roles each of them has come the regular season, however, could look very different.

What kind of role could Zay Jones have in the Cardinals offense?

The addition of Jones this offseason screamed one thing:

Wilson, who entered the offseason as Arizona’s top WR2 candidate, is going to have some added competition for the role come training camp.

Head coach Jonathan Gannon’s early thoughts on the 6-foot-2 Jones only added to that narrative.

“With Zay, you quickly find out he fits the price of admission here,” the head coach said in May. “The football character is through the roof. He’s extremely smart, has obviously played at a high level for a good amount of time here. He’s done well acclimating in last week. He’s excited to go.

“He’s really a three-position guy,” Gannon added. “He can play it all, he’s smart enough to play all of it. The entire team knows right now it’s kind of a competing phase for their role. Everybody’s kind of in the same boat but he’s played multiple positions throughout his career, had production at all of them, extremely smart, wants to helps us win.”

Jones enters camp as Wilson’s biggest competition in the room given his NFL resume that includes 3,028 receiving yards, 18 touchdowns and 104 games played (67 starts) across seven seasons. He’s just two years removed from putting up career marks in receptions (82) and yards (823) with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Wilson on the other hand doesn’t have nearly the same experience as Jones at the pro level. The second-year pro does, however, have an established relationship with quarterback Kyler Murray and has a year working in offensive coordinator Drew Petzing’s system.

The former took another step forward after Wilson got in added work with the franchise signal caller away from team practices.

“Mike’s going to be playing for a long time. I fully believe that,” Murray said in June. “He’s one of those guys I call him at 3 a.m. and he’s there. He loves this (expletive).”

Where Wilson needs to take the biggest step forward is availability.

While the wideout flashed as a rookie behind 565 yards and three touchdowns, he also watched as injury issues followed him from college, this time in the form of a lingering shoulder issue. He missed four games and played through a handful more with the ailment.

Of the battles to watch this training camp, Jones vs. Wilson for WR2 is right up there at the top.

What about Chris Moore’s role?

Jones sliding in as a WR2/3 in 2024 could definitely happen, especially if Wilson were to miss any time due to injury.

Moore is much more of a wild card.

Not having nearly the same success as fellow veteran Jones behind 1,710 yards and eight touchdowns across 106 games played (18 starts), the 6-foot-1 Moore likely slots in as a depth piece given the current pecking order in the wide receivers room.

He could also see some run as a special teamer, having played at least 42% of available snaps in six of his eight NFL seasons.

Either way, the more options the better for offensive coordinator Drew Petzing and Co.

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