Best and Worst Moves of the Arizona Cardinals' Free Agency so Far
Free agency has been a roller coaster ride for Arizona through the opening 10 days. It has made several bold moves, some of which benefit the team and others not so much.
If one thing has been made clear, it is that Steve Keim is not afraid to make a call on tough decisions. He has a plan and does not let the fans or the media influence it.
The Cardinals will have a few more tough calls to make this offseason. While the team will start to shape up following the draft, its direction is not looking too swell right now.
Highlighted over the next few slides are the best and worst moves made by Arizona in free agency thus far.
Best: Cutting Kevin Kolb
One of the biggest decisions Arizona had to make was whether they kept Kevin Kolb or let him go.
Since being traded to the team two years ago, Kolb has made just 14 starts. He put up fairly respectable numbers over that time span, but he was not worth nearly as much as his contract says he is.
Heading into 2013, he was expected to make $13.5 million. As someone who won just six games in two seasons, Kolb should have been running to management to restructure his contract.
With few options available at the quarterback spot, bringing Kolb back for another year would not have been a terrible idea. For that to happen, though, a pay cut was a must. Since the two sides could not agree on a new deal, he was released.
Although he is still owed $6 million, cutting Kolb was the right move. The Cardinals freed up $7.5 million in cap space with the release.
Worst: Losing Quentin Groves
A pleasant surprise for the Cardinals, Quentin Groves played a key role on both defense and special teams this past year.
He was signed by the team in May and made just $700,000 in 2012.
In seven starts last season, he recorded 46 tackles, a forced fumble and 4.5 sacks. His play earned him a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns.
Reuniting with Ray Horton in Cleveland played a huge role in the signing, but letting him walk was a mistake.
Arizona does not have much depth when it comes to its pass rush. It could have offered Groves much more than the $1.4 million a year he is making as a Brown.
This is not a huge loss for the Cardinals, but it was certainly a preventable one. Losing him gives the team one more need to worry about heading into the draft.
Best: Rashard Mendenhall Contract
Arizona had the worst running game in all of football in 2012. It averaged just 75.3 yards per game and there was no real No. 1 running back. Many expected the team to address this issue in the offseason. The Cardinals were linked to several backs, including Reggie Bush.
I am not saying that Rashard Mendenhall will be the answer to what was an awful run game. The signing was not too impressive, but the Cardinals came out on top in contract negotiations.
With a small market at running back this year, I fully expected a team to overpay a back like Mendenhall. Fortunately for Arizona, no one did.
He signed with the Cards for one year and $2.5 million. This not only takes pressure away from Ryan Williams, but it also gives Mendenhall a chance to prove himself.
A long-term deal here would have been a bad move for the Cardinals. The fact that they were able to work out a one-year contract with one of the top backs on the market is impressive.
Worst: Letting Greg Toler Walk
For the second year in a row, the Arizona Cardinals have lost a solid defensive back to free agency.
Both men received similar contracts. Toler inked a three-year, $15 million deal, while Marshall signed for $16 million over three years.
Although these two have been replaced by Jamell Fleming and Antoine Cason, they would both be upgrades to the current Cardinals secondary.
When healthy, Toler is one of the better No. 2 corners in football. Of all the signings Arizona has made thus far, this should have been a top priority.
Best: Signing Matt Shaughnessy
While losing Quentin Groves did hurt, signing Matt Shaughnessy helped soften the blow for the Cardinals defense. They lost a player with great pass-rushing abilities but filled the gap with a solid run-stuffer in Shaughnessy.
This is an area that the Arizona defense needed to improve on. It finished fifth in pass defense, but was near the bottom of the league in run defense.
Facing the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore twice a year will do that to a team.
Shaughnessy signed a one-year deal with the team. At the time, he was one of the better defensive ends left on the market.
The Cardinals got a bit of a steal with this signing. Shaughnessy is still relatively young (26) and has a lot of potential.
You will likely hear his name a few times before the season kicks off.