Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free-agency review: Cardinals
By Josh Weinfuss
Most significant signing: Arizona vastly upgraded its offensive line when it signed left tackle Jared Veldheer. He gives the Cardinals an anchor on the left side, a position that hasn’t been solidified -- nor sturdy -- for the past 10 years. At 6-foot-8 and 320 pounds, Veldheer changed the complexion of how Arizona’s offense can work. The Cards now have an answer for the tough defensive ends and outside linebackers in the NFC West, putting one a few steps closer to becoming a playoff team.
Most significant loss: Without a doubt, Arizona’s biggest loss is inside linebacker Karlos Dansby. He provided a bridge between the secondary and defensive line, and was able to cross it seamlessly and often. Dansby’s loss will impact the defense because of his ability to go sideline to sideline. He had a career season in 2013 after shedding weight. Dansby was also the conductor of the defense and was held in high regard throughout the locker room.
Biggest surprise: The one name that’s stood out from the Cardinals’ haul thus far is Ted Ginn Jr. The speedy receiver is a perfect fit for Bruce Arians’ offense but his addition wasn’t expected. Like Veldheer’s signing, the idea of signing Ginn became a reality when the Carolina Panthers didn’t make a strong push to re-sign him. By landing Ginn, Arizona has a dual-purpose player -- Ginn can assume the kick returner role, while being a solid backup for Patrick Peterson on punt returns -- and will be Arizona’s third receiver, the one whose speed can take the top off defenses.
What’s next? The Cardinals solved a lot of their problems that plagued them throughout 2013, but there are still some areas left to be fixed. Arizona will target a right tackle, safety, cornerback and tight end during the second wave of free agency as well as in the draft. Of those, the Cards will most likely aim for a safety and tight end in the draft while trying to snag another offensive lineman or two and a cornerback in free agency. With that being said, the draft could yield a talented corner who would come at a cheaper price than some of the veterans on the team. General manager Steve Keim will still approach the second wave of free agency like he did the first: looking for instant-impact players. However the second wave may yield more veterans, who Arizona has utilized in the past, as well as a slew of backups.