Picking 1 Free Agent to Fill Each of the Cardinals' Holes
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Free agency opened up Tuesday afternoon and the Arizona Cardinals were a busy team with signing free agents and releasing other players of their own.
Starting cornerback William Gay was released while cornerback Greg Toler went to Indianapolis. Free safety Kerry Rhodes was released on Wednesday just a couple days after Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson was released.
Running back Beanie Wells was released by the team and NFL.com is reporting the release of quarterback Kevin Kolb will be done in the next 48 hours. The release is likely to happen so that Arizona doesn't have to play him a $2 million roster bonus, due on Saturday.
With the way the team performed last season, plenty of holes became apparent and free agency is the first chance Arizona has to fill them.
Start the slideshow and see who makes the most sense to fill the holes the Cardinals have.
Quarterback: Drew Stanton
Stanton followed Bruce Arians to Arizona.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Arizona signed Drew Stanton in free agency and he becomes the fifth quarterback on the roster joining Kolb, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Brian Hoyer. Clearly, some of these quarterbacks are going to be getting cut loose.
Stanton has played in 12 career games, all with Detroit. He's thrown for 1,158 yards in his career with five touchdowns. While the numbers aren't overly impressive, Arizona signed him to a three-year deal. Look for a quarterback competition when training camp opens in July as the job could be up for grabs.
Alex Smith was on the Cardinals' radar but he got traded to Kansas City. The Chiefs cut Matt Cassell but he was picked up by Minnesota. The other free agent that might be of some value is Ryan Fitzpatrick who was cut by Buffalo earlier this week. Since Arizona has five quarterbacks on the roster, Fitzpatrick won't be under consideration.
It looks like Stanton will fill the spot at quarterback for Arizona in a year marked by weak free agents at the quarterback position.
Running Back: Rashard Mendenhall
The Cardinals signed Mendenhall to a one-year deal.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Arizona picked up Rashard Mendenhall from the Steelers and signed him to a one-year deal. Mendenhall missed 10 games in 2012 recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in the 2011 regular-season finale.
Mendenhall was the right back for Arizona to pick up. Over his last three full seasons, he's rushed 794 times for 3309 yards and 29 touchdowns. When healthy, he has the durability and talent to be a running back that can be counted on to be the featured back.
Mendenhall averages one or two receptions per game so he fits with Arians' coaching theory of running backs who run and wide receivers who catch.
Other running backs were still on the market as of press time but wouldn't fit the Cardinals as well as Mendenhall does. Michael Turner was coming off of his worst season in the last five years with just 800 rushing yards but he put up 10 touchdowns. At age 31, he wouldn't have fit the Cardinals in the long run.
Ahmad Bradshaw was still on the market as well but had foot issues which limited him last season and plagued him for most of his career. Steven Jackson went to Atlanta earlier yesterday and signed a three-year deal. The Cardinals had some interest in Reggie Bush but he chose Detroit.
Mendenhall makes the most sense and was the best free-agent back that Arizona could have signed.
Wide Receiver: Greg Jennings
Jennings makes a catch in the NFC playoffs.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Greg Jennings could be the free agent best suited to fill the Arizona Cardinals hole at wide receiver. There's no doubt Larry Fitzgerald is the top wide receiver but a 1-2 punch of Fitzgerald and Jennings would be something to be reckoned with.
Jennings is still in play and his price may have come down a bit after Wes Welker signed a two-year, $12-million deal with Denver. Perhaps at a reduced price, Arizona might want to kick the proverbial tires on him.
Jennings is coming off a season when he missed time with an abdominal injury that needed surgery to repair. When healthy, Jennings puts up strong numbers. He's had at least 65 receptions and 950 yards in each of his last four full seasons. Those numbers could suffer if he came to Arizona since there's a downgrade in talent at quarterback.
Arizona is reportedly close to signing Josh Cribbs away from Cleveland. He'd be able to boost the team on kickoff returns and as a third wide receiver but isn't in a position of being able to take the heat off of Fitzgerald. But the deal is not quite in place, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Cardinals have an additional level of need after cutting Early Doucet earlier this week.
Victor Cruz is still out there on the market but is unlikely to move from the New York Giants. Cruz is signed to a first-round tender, according to USA Today. In order for Arizona to get its hands on Cruz, the Cardinals would have to give up the seventh overall pick in the draft. That's highly unlikely at best.
Arizona missed out on Welker while Mike Wallace finalized a deal with the Dolphins and Dwayne Bowe chose to stay put in Kansas City.
Tight End: Dustin Keller
Keller makes a tackle following a turnover.
Keller would be the better blocker of the two and doesn't have other concerns that Davis does. Davis missed time after tearing his Achilles' tendon in October. His 2011 campaign ended early when the league hit Davis with a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy with multiple failed drug tests.
As a receiver, Keller averaged 55 catches, 800 yards and five touchdowns in each of his last three full seasons in New York. Keller missed time with hamstring and ankle injuries but they should be easier to recover from than a torn Achilles' tendon.
While the offensive stats aren't going to blow anyone away, they are a step up from the meager production Arizona has gotten out of its tight ends in the last few years.
Keller went to the Dolphins looking for a deal but didn't find it, according to Pro Football Talk.
Jared Cook was another prized player at this position but he chose the Rams. Tony Gonzalez announced he would come back for another season with the Falcons and Martellus Bennett left the Giants for Chicago.
Dennis Pitta of the Ravens is a restricted free agent but the Cardinals would be unlikely to give the compensation needed to pry him out of Baltimore.
Offensive Tackle: Sebastian Vollmer
Vollmer blocks Chris Long of the Rams.
Scott Heavey/Getty Images
It's no secret that Arizona needs help on the offensive line and Sebastian Vollmer of the Patriots would be the best player the Cardinals could get in free agency.
Jake Long of the Dolphins is reportedly trying to hammer out a deal with St. Louis, according to NFL.com. Then again, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is reporting Long is likely to stay in Miami. Either way, it's unlikely he'd be coming to the Cardinals.
Minnesota kept Phil Loadholt and Ryan Clady was given the franchise tag in Denver.
Vollmer had a fast start to the season in 2012 but suffered with injuries in the second half. Vollmer had his knee scoped in the last few weeks, according to the Boston Globe. Vollmer is expected to be ready for training camp, regardless of who he signs with.
Offensive Guard: Brandon Moore
Moore (center) would be the best fit at guard for the Cardinals.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Brandon Moore is a name that doesn't ring much of a bell to most football fans. Yet he is known as a key player in one of the most talked-about plays in 2012, if not ever.
All bloopers aside, Moore is the best fit for the Cardinals if they want to add a guard. He has not missed a game in eight seasons which is key for a banged-up offensive line.
Linebacker: Rey Maualaga
Maualaga (left) closes in on Dez Bryant of Dallas.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Rey Maualuga of the Bengals would be the Cardinals' best fit if they wanted to shore up the linebacker position through free agency. He had his best season in 2012 with 122 total tackles and Arizona had a weak defense against the run. Maualuga is also young and the Cardinals could get a few good seasons out of him.
Karlos Dansby is again a free agent but Arizona wouldn't be likely to take a second chance on him. Dwight Freeney and Brian Urlacher are big-name players who are also on the market. Arizona Sports is reporting that the Cards have some interest in Urlacher but several other teams have interest in him as well.
Arizona signed Lorenzo Alexander and Jasper Brinkley to shore up the linebacking corps. Alexander, a former Redskin, was a Pro Bowl player as a special teams ace and got a three-year, $9.5 million contract with $3 million in guaranteed money according to the Washington Post.
Brinkley comes to Arizona from Minnesota with 99 total tackles and three forced fumbles and picked up a two-year deal according to CBS Sports.
Alexander and Brinkley will help but Maualuga would be the best long-term answer. Urlacher, if the rumors are true, could help to groom the next generation of linebackers if he chose to come here.
Safety: Charles Woodson
Woodson (right) chases down Colin Kapernick.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Charles Woodson looks to be the ideal player to help fill in the Arizona defensive backfield which was gutted in the last week. With Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes both being released, the need is definitely there.
Arizona re-signed Rashad Johnson and picked up Yeremiah Bell to shore up the position. Bell is a 10-year veteran who spent last season with the Jets after nine years in Miami.
Bell recorded at least 100 tackles in each of his last four seasons with the Dolphins so he might be in line to be Wilson's replacement as the safety who steps up in the run game.
Woodson would be a nice veteran influence to help with pass coverage and build up the experience of the younger safeties on the roster.
He's coming off of a season where he missed time with a broken collarbone yet misses very few games. He's recorded 921 tackles, 55 interceptions and 11 touchdowns in his career so his performance still merits some strong consideration.
Ed Reed is possibly going to sign with Houston, according to USA Today. The Texans need a safety after losing Glover Quin to Detroit. Bernard Pollard is also out there available and has a reputation for being a crushing safety but Bell seems to have that role sewn up.
Cornerback: Antoine Cason
Cason tries to break up a pass against Oakland.
Harry How/Getty Images
Antoine Cason of the Chargers would be the best fit if the Cardinals are looking to upgrade their cornerback situation through free agency. Cason has never missed a game in five seasons in San Diego and is good for a couple interceptions a year.
He's also registered at least 10 passes defensed in each of the last three seasons so he could be a nice compliment to Patrick Peterson.
There are other cornerbacks out there but they seem to come with baggage that makes them less appealing. Brent Grimes of the Falcons lost 15 games last season to an Achilles' tear.
Quentin Jammer has 12 years of experience but doesn't contribute as much in tackling as Cason does. With Arizona being torn up in the run game, a tackling cornerback is a big need for the Cardinals.
Nnamdi Asomugha is also available after the Eagles cut him. Arizona is reportedly interested, according to Pro Football Talk but the 12-year veteran just didn't fit well in Philadelphia. He didn't do well on the field to justify the fat contract the Eagles gave him.
Aqib Talib is an interesting proposition but has a checkered past with personal conduct issues. The Panthers' Chris Gamble retired from the league.