John Clayton: Cardinals have early edge over Seahawks

Mar 18, 2016, 8:49 AM | Updated: 12:57 pm
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs the ball as Seattle Seahawks cornerback ...

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) runs the ball as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) watches during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)

(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
LISTEN: John Clayton, ESPN NFL insider

The recent moves by Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim are generating some national buzz.

“He’s fantastic, he does such a great job, because he’s creative, he’s knowledgeable, he’s bold and he makes it all work,” ESPN’s NFL analyst John Clayton told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM  Friday morning.

The free agency period for the Cardinals was pretty ho-hum until Keim pulled off a blockbuster trade with the New England Patriots for pass-rusher Chandler Jones. The general manager continued making moves by signing offensive lineman Evan Mathis, fresh off his Super Bowl win with the Denver Broncos, and bringing back running back Chris Johnson.

“You can see from the talent standpoint, the league-wide debate is ‘who’s better, is it Seattle or Arizona’,” Clayton said. “I compare it to a couple years ago when Seattle and San Francisco were going at each other, one team would sign one guy, next team would come back and sign another and it was kind of an arms race. If you’re looking at what happened in the past week, with Chandler Jones and Evan Mathis, and with Chris Johnson coming back, you’d probably give a little bit of the edge to Arizona, but then Seattle still has room to do some things.”

Seattle hasn’t had much activity in bringing players in this offseason, but they’ve seen plenty depart. Running back Marshawn Lynch hung up the laces, linebacker Bruce Irvin signed a four-year, $37 million deal with the Oakland Raiders and offensive lineman Russell Okung agreed to join the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The San Diego Chargers scooped up defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers added guard J.R. Sweezy.

While Clayton thinks the Cardinals have the edge after their flurry of moves, he isn’t ruling Seattle out just yet.

“If they can fix the left tackle position, either in the draft or free agency, they may have the edge.”

The race for the NFC West crown is heating up, and Clayton emphasizes the importance of coming out on top.

“I think it’s great to see, because once again in the NFC West you have a two-way battle of who’s going to get better and who’s going to come out,” Clayton said. “I think it’s critical, you have to win the division, because three road games in the NFC is really tough.”

Arizona is seeking its first back-to-back division titles since the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

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John Clayton: Cardinals have early edge over Seahawks