NFL Free Agency: 4 Players the Arizona Cardinals Still Need to Target
When the Arizona Cardinals traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick for Kevin Kolb, it was a clear message to both players and fans—the NFC West can be reclaimed.
But it won't be easy.
By getting better on offense, the Arizona Cardinals significantly weakened their defense, a common theme the past few years.
For the 2011 Arizona Cardinals to succeed, they need to get deeper at every position.
The talent is there, but when injuries start affecting key players like it has Adrian Wilson, someone needs to be able to step in—and let's hope his name is not Matt Ware.
Fortunately, there are several quality depth players still available, which will be needed for the Arizona Cardinals to keep pace with a rising division.
In order of importance, here are five players the Arizona Cardinals need to sign for the depth needed to be division contenders.
4. Lofa Tatupu
Kevin Kolb and company must have been thrilled to see the Seattle Seahawks release Lofa Tatupu, as he was one of the most dynamic linebackers in the division.
Schematically, Tatupu has only known a 4-3 defense, anchoring the middle linebacker position.
But as more and more teams are switching to a 3-4 defense, the question must be asked: Could Lofa Tatupu make a transition to OLB?
If the Cardinals were to sign Tatupu, he would instantly be the best linebacker on the team. He could play both inside and outside, and would be tackling insurance if Adrian Wilson suffers from his bicep injury.
This may be the least likely acquisition, but after watching what Lofa Tatupu did to the Cardinals in previous years, it would be nice to see him return the favor as a Cardinal.
3. Darren Sharper
For a brief period of two months, the Arizona Cardinals were able to boast a secondary that ranked near the top of the league.
Fans were relieved that the secondary that was completely absent in the 2010 playoffs against the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints was no more—nor the defense that failed to stop Roethlisberger's attack when a Super Bowl was on the line in 2009.
With the departure of DRC, the Cards are suddenly back where they started. And now with Adrian Wilson suffering from a torn bicep, they must find help when facing the likes of Vick, Roethlisberger and Bradford in 2011.
Who better to bring experience, leadership and stability than Darren Sharper?
For the past decade, Sharper has been every defensive coordinator’s dream. With five Pro Bowl selections as recent as 2009, this is the man you want showing Patrick Peterson what it means to be a pro in the NFL.
Even with the recent signing of Matt Ware and the honorable effort of Adrian Wilson to play hurt, the Arizona Cardinals need depth at safety. Darren Sharper can come in and be the short-term need to bridge the growth of this young secondary.
2. Matt Roth
Why the Arizona Cardinals have not signed Matt Roth is mind-boggling.
His 2010 campaign was nothing short of solid, something the Arizona Cardinals have lacked in the position of LB since the the days of Karlos Dansby.
True fans know Joey Porter was never the right fit in the desert, and it is time to realize that signing him was expensive and wasteful.
Matt Roth is the antithesis of Porter. Roth will be considerably cheaper and will not dazzle fans with spectacular play, but that’s OK. He only needs to cause enough pressure outside to allow Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett to wreak havoc up front.
With the potential for a breakout star in O'Brien Schofield or Sam Acho, Roth will be the depth they need to get pressure on the QB, while also giving management time to see what they have in these young OLBs.
1. Terrell Owens
For many years, the Arizona Cardinals had arguably the best talent at WR. The only proven WR left is Larry Fitzgerald, who will be eternally double or triple-teamed unless Early Doucet or Andre Roberts can cause defenses to think twice with strong play.
There were plenty of rumors surrounding star receivers like Braylon Edwards or Randy Moss, which is proof that the Arizona Cardinals are not completely satisfied with what they have.
The Arizona Cardinals could pursue middle-class talent like Jerricho Cotchery or T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but there is an opportunity to hit it big with Terrell Owens.
Fans might cringe at the thought of this football diva, but consider his stats.
His lowest production came in 2009 with the Buffalo Bills, but he still accumulated more than 800 yards and five TD catches. Last year he quietly produced almost 1,000 yards receiving and nine TD catches.
Owens seems to be happy being a complementary receiver late in his career, but rather than the eccentric Chad Ochocinco, it will be Larry Fitzgerald he must answer to if he is to act up.
Fitzgerald needs a defensive distraction, and there is no one better than Owens, who will make defenses nervous about leaving T.O. one-on-one to double Fitzgerald.
Owens could easily be a bust, but then again, he may have something to prove.
The Deepest Team Will Win the NFC West
Depth is essential to winning a championship.
Depth is why the Green Bay Packers were able to win the Super Bowl despite losing Charles Woodson and Donald Driver to in-game injuries.
If Kevin Kolb were to go down early in the season, lack of depth might put the Arizona Cardinals in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
While adding depth players to the roster is not as exciting as chasing after big-name players, it will make the difference between the Arizona Cardinals finishing 7-9 or 9-7.
What are your thoughts?
Should the Cardinals look for help at DB? Is chasing Terrell Owens welcoming unneeded drama? Are there any positions that need greater attention, like a backup for Kevin Kolb?
The window of opportunity is shrinking, but adding any of these players will instantly make the Cardinals deeper and, more importantly, better.