ESPN.com NFL insider: Cardinals receive a ‘C’ grade for free agency

Apr 2, 2013, 1:44 AM | Updated: 1:59 am

It’s safe to say in his first off-season as general manager, Steve Keim has been a very busy man. Coming off a disappointing 5-11 campaign, the Arizona Cardinals needed to address several pressing needs in free agency, and on the surface it seems they’ve done just that.

To date, the Cardinals have signed 10 free agents (Antoine Cason, Rashard Mendenhall, Drew Stanton, Jerraud Powers, Jonathon Amaya, Matt Shaughnessy, Frostee Rucker, Jasper Brinkley, Yeremiah Bell and Lorenzo Alexander) and re-signed two of their own (Brian Hoyer and Rashad Johnson).

Although Arizona has made a concerted effort to make smart, short-term deals — no player signed a contract longer than three years — not everyone is all that impressed with the work Keim has done thus far.

In an ESPN.com column Monday, NFL insider Matt Williamson graded every NFC team’s free-agency pick-ups, and the Cardinals didn’t exactly pass with flying colors.

Williamson slapped a ‘C’ grade on Keim and Co., and only five teams in the conference finished lower in the rankings.

Through free agency, the Cardinals are better at cornerback and running back and maybe even quarterback (could they be worse?) than a year ago. But their offensive line needs serious work and now they are deficient at safety. Arizona, with a new staff in place, is looking at the big picture, got out of some tough contracts and will build through the draft to get its type of players in place.

While Williamson didn’t take a huge liking to Arizona’s low-risk, high-reward moves, he does admit that the team could potentially get decent value out of Cason, Powers, Mendenhall and Stanton.

Cason could flourish opposite Patrick Peterson and is sure to see a lot of passes thrown his way, and Powers should be a high-end nickel corner. Bruce Arians is very familiar with Mendenhall and should maximize his impressive abilities, and Stanton has never had a legitimate opportunity to show what he can do as a starting NFL QB. His skill set matches what Arians looks for at the position.

The Cardinals might not have hit a home run yet this off-season, but in order to compete in a division like the NFC West, it appears that Keim realizes that he must first hit singles and doubles.

Apparently that approach isn’t for everyone.

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ESPN.com NFL insider: Cardinals receive a ‘C’ grade for free agency