5 Missing Pieces the Arizona Cardinals Could Still Land
With the NFL draft in the rear-view mirror, the Arizona Cardinals still have a few missing pieces. The good news is that all of them can be filled with free-agent players that are still available on the market.
Arizona still has approximately $9.4 million available in salary cap space according to ProFootballTalk.com, so it will be interesting to see how much of it they might use to plug these few holes.
Inside linebacker is a missing piece for the Arizona Cardinals at this time. The need was there at the draft, and Arizona addressed it in part by picking up Kevin Minter of LSU in the second round.
There is, however, the need for another inside linebacker after the way things have gone for Pro Bowl linebacker Daryl Washington in the last few weeks. Washington was suspended by the league for four games for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy.
Add to that a sportingnews.com report that Washington was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault.
Arizona still has a need at linebacker, and the person who might come to its rescue is former Cardinal Karlos Dansby.
Mike Jurecki of Xtra Sports 910 said on Twitter that Dansby is coming to Arizona for a visit.
Hearing LB Karlos Dansby is scheduled to visit the Cards tomorrow, based on recent events Cards need an insurance policy at linebacker.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) May 7, 2013
Dansby spent the last three seasons with Miami and finished with a career-best 134 tackles. Arizona needs another solid run-stopper, and Dansby would be the piece the Cardinals could go after. ESPN is also reporting that Buffalo is in the running for Dansby's services.
If Arizona signs Dansby, it could spell the end for Washington. Not only is he due a salary of $2.9 million next season, but he is also up for a $10 million roster bonus according to NFL.com.
Arizona picked up a pair of guards at the draft but still has a missing piece at the offensive tackle spot.
Levi Brown is coming back off a torn triceps that ended his year in the preseason finale against Denver. The Cardinals have a pair of young tackles in Bobby Massie and Nate Potter. Both will be in their second season in the league.
The player Arizona should be targeting is Max Starks, formerly of the Steelers. Starks should be available after Pittsburgh picked up Guy Whimper out of Jacksonville. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Whimper's signing likely ends Starks' time in Iron City.
Starks would be a player to get in Cardinals' colors. His size (6'8", 345 pounds) would make him a mauler and a mountain of a tackle for opponents to get past. He was also the only Steeler to play every offensive snap in 2012, which speaks plenty about his durability.
The only downside is that with his size, his mobility would be limited.
Arizona could use a boost in the pass-rushing game, and Dwight Freeney could be the player to provide it. The addition of Alex Okafor in the draft helps Arizona. But the team could always use more pressure on the quarterback.
While his age (33) would be a concern, he would help out with getting after the mobile quarterbacks in the rest of the NFC West. His production in sacks has declined over the last four seasons—from 13.5 in 2009 down to five in 2012.
Overall, he has 107.5 career sacks and 44 forced fumbles. Those kind of numbers scream talent, and Arizona could use the extra talent on the defensive line. He would also add extra knowledge of the AFC South; the Cardinals tangle with that division this season in interconference play.
Sedrick Ellis of the Saints could be the run-stopping defensive tackle Arizona needs to shore up the defensive line against the rush. Ellis had some bursts to get to the quarterback but has recorded just 0.5 sacks in his last 31 games.
Jurecki said on Twitter that there might be some interest between Arizona and Ellis, a former seventh overall pick in the draft.
Steve Keim mentioned ovr the wknd that they wld lk 2 add DT/NT could be undrafted players or FA, hearing Sedrick Ellis could be on the radar
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) April 30, 2013
Ellis is one of the few options left on the market at defensive tackle, and his age at the start of the season (28) makes him worth a kick of the proverbial tires. He might never live up his first-round status, but he could be an addition Arizona makes for little cost and little risk.
The Cardinals traded away their lone fullback on the roster, so there is a need to replace him. Arizona traded Anthony Sherman to Kansas City for cornerback Javier Arenas last week.
If Arizona wanted to pick up a fullback, Mike Cox of the Falcons looks to be available. He started 12 games at that position in the last two seasons. Cox served as the lead blocker for Michael Turner but wasn't much of a threat in the passing game.
Then again, Sherman might have been the last fullback the Cardinals will keep on their roster given Bruce Arians' coaching philosophy. Arians likes to employ more formations with two tight ends, so look for Arizona to replace Sherman with a more versatile H-back.
Arians was quoted in the article as saying,
I want tight ends who are multiple. If you are a defensive coordinator and I send a fullback in and take out a tight end, I will get your best call for that. If I have two tight ends (in the game), and you don’t know if one will play fullback or one could split out wide, you’re going to give me a down-and-distance (defensive) call. You don’t have a specific call. The more flexible tight ends can be, threats at receiver or dual in-line backfield blockers, the more pressure you put on the defense.
The name of Tim Tebow comes to mind for a second, but he's unwilling to play anything other than quarterback so he's not a factor.
After them, there aren't many who would be considered hybrid backs like that, so it's not likely that Arizona will replace Sherman with another true fullback.