The next big thing: Cardinals

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
12:00
PM ET
What the Arizona Cardinals do in May’s NFL draft will largely be dictated by what they do in free agency.

Their primary focus is on securing a left tackle in free agency, and that could be addressed by luring free agents Branden Albert or Eugene Monroe to Arizona. The Cardinals will also try to find a big safety who can defend tight ends. Defensive backs will also be a priority because four will be free agents this year. But if free agency doesn’t yield who the Cardinals want, don’t expect them just to sign players for the sake of filling out a roster.

As general manager Steve Keim has shown, he can work wonders in the draft. Arizona will try to get a tackle in the first round if they haven’t signed one by then and from there, it'll depend on who’s left on the board but a safety -- it’s a common refrain, but if they haven’t signed one -- and a quarterback will be among their top priorities from there.

The Cardinals will also use the draft and free agency to restock their tight end basin, and if Rashard Mendenhall doesn’t return, another running back could be in the works. Don’t rule out the addition of a third wide receiver to replace Andre Roberts if he walks during free agency, who’s young and fast. That’s most likely a draft project.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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