ESPN: Four Cardinals listed in top 25 projected 2017 free agents
Jul 22, 2016, 4:00 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Even though contract negotiations between the Arizona Cardinals and Tyrann Mathieu have been the most prevalent in the news, he’s not the only top player on the team that could hit free agency after the upcoming season.
Calais Campbell, newcomer Chandler Jones and Larry Fitzgerald all enter the final year of their respective contracts as well.
ESPN’s John Clayton included the four Cardinal studs in his list of the top 25 projected 2017 free agents.
2. Tyrann Mathieu, S, Arizona Cardinals: Mathieu’s impasse in contract talks with the Cardinals is because he wants to be paid like a top defensive player instead of being just the highest-paid safety in the league. What can’t be ignored is how good he is when healthy.
The Cardinals have been in talks with the former LSU Tiger during the summer about an extension as they would like to retain the most versatile defender in the NFL.
Mathieu completed his 2015 campaign with 89 tackles and was tied for the team lead in interceptions with five.
Clayton spoke with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday about the reasoning behind the stalemate of negotiations between the two sides..
“He’s becoming one of the best defensive players in the league,” Clayton said. “But still, just like in the case of Earl Thomas, he’s a safety and the top safeties make $10.25 million. How much more than that can Steve Keim and the organization go?”
While the Cardinals primary focus is locking up Mathieu, the organization will seek an extension for Campbell as well.
7. Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals: Campbell is a dominating force along the Cardinals’ line. He turns 30 in September, and it’s vital the Cardinals sign him to a long-term deal.
Statistically speaking, the defensive end is coming off of his worst season in the NFL, he finished with his lowest sack total (five) since becoming a starter in 2009.
Even though he suffered a down year, Campbell was still named to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season. He has 48.5 sacks and has forced six fumbles in his eight-year career.
Joining Campbell on the defensive front is Jones, who will be seeking big money when free agency hits.
9. Chandler Jones, DE, Arizona Cardinals: Jones had two double-digit-sack seasons with the Patriots, and they traded him because he was going to be too costly to keep. It’s now Arizona’s job to sign him to a long-term deal.
The Cardinals traded a second round pick and Jonathan Cooper for Jones. He will be a much-needed upgrade for the team’s pass-rush, which finished 20th in the NFL in sacks last year with 36.
In 55 career games, the 26-year-old has sacked opposing quarterbacks 36 times and has forced 10 fumbles. He enjoyed a career year in 2015 with 12.5 sacks.
One player who enjoyed his best season in years is the final Cardinals member on Clayton’s list.
14. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Fitzgerald’s contract voids five days after the Super Bowl, and figuring out his value is fascinating. He has been one of the best receivers in his era, but next year he will be 33 with 13 years of NFL experience.
In 2015, Fitzgerald topped the 100-catch mark for the first time since 2007 when he caught a career high 109 passes.
Among all wide receivers, his 109 catches ranked tied for fifth and he was sixth in receptions for first downs with 65.
In addition, Fitzgerald’s 1,215 yards was the ninth highest, while his 458 yards after catch were the 13th most and he finished tied for 14th in touchdowns with nine.