Cardinals, the roster, and target areas

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2014 – 11:33 am

Every time General Manager Steve Keim talks about his roster, he talks about looking to improve everywhere. That’s always the default. While the Cardinals probably need, say, offensive linemen or tight ends more than, running backs, you don’t turn down chances to upgrade your team at any position. (As for the latest talk-radio conversation about quarterback, I feel confident that a) Carson Palmer is going to be the starter in 2014 and b) if Keim has a QB sitting on the board in the draft that he really, really likes — whenever that is — the Cardinals will likely take him.)

All that said, there are spots that need addressing just for the sheer numbers. I’ve already posted this once, but below is a link to a roster breakdown done right after the season. It has changed a bit — punter Dave Zastudil has re-signed by now — but the rest of the contract situations remain the same. Keim has a little more than six weeks before contracts officially expire. In terms of strictly numbers, here are how impending free agency impacts the positions (not including all the futures deals/low-end free agents that have signed):

— QB: Cards are fine with all three guys under contract. You’d expect a fourth camp arm to sign if one isn’t drafted.

— RB: Rashard Mendenhall is unrestricted and plays a big role, although if the Cards rode Andre Ellington/Stepfan Taylor in 2014, no one would be surprised.

— WR: Assuming the Cards can get comfortable (if they aren’t already) with Fitz’s contract, the position is probably OK. They need to add someone if Andre Roberts leaves as a free agent, but they can ride with Floyd/Fitz as a top two.

— TE: A major question. Only Rob Housler is under contract for next season. This has got to be a spot where the Cards draft, right?

— OL: Upgrades are necessary and will happen, but as of now, only Eric Winston is a free agent of guys who played at all.

— DL: Need depth here. Do you bring Frostee Rucker back? And that rehab needed for Alameda Ta’amu’s ACL tear hurts the team as much as Ta’amu.

— LB: It’s hard not to notice two starters in Karlos Dansby and Matt Shaughnessy who could potentially walk away.

— DB: The Cards could probably use another young safety, although they may be in good shape if Tony Jefferson can step forward. But what about cornerback, with Tyrann Mathieu coming back from injury and Javier Arenas/Antoine Cason/Bryan McCann scheduled to be free agents. Depth is needed there. It’ll be interesting to see if Justin Bethel ends up playing a bigger defensive role.

— Specialists: Zastudil is back. We’ll see what the Cardinals do at kicker and impending FA Jay Feely.


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Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Cardinals, the roster, and target areas”

  1. By jakeplummersghost on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Just re-sign Karlos and we can fill the rest of the spots with draftees, second-year guys and guys not on the very top-tier of FA. If Shaughnessy has to walk because of an impending big deal, then so be it, although I like him. Give the money to Dansby, draft a TE and LT and OLB and we should be pretty good. Like Tony Jefferson a lot.

  2. By Mark in Chandler on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Although we are still way early, let me start the anyone-but-Kouandjio campaign. He is consistantly beaten in pass blocking by what should be inferior talent.The media has way over valued him. I am just starting to recover from Levi Brown, please don’t open that old wound.

    Give me Zach Martin, Taylor Lewan on the OL. Or give me Ealy (OLB) or any of the 3 1st round TEs or even one of the two CB that have a 1st rd grade, or a QB in the 1st round just don’t draft Kouandjio. I would even be happy for Donald or Hageman (even though I think 20 is high for both of them and we don’t really need a starting DL.) Any of those players would be better than Kouandjio. Anyone but Kouandjio!

  3. By D on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Okay, Darren, I’ll give you my plan/thoughts prior to free agency which will impact the draft.

    Of all of Cards pending free agents, I would try to resign Dansby, Rucker, McCann, Dray and Ballard. I would let Roberts (probably get a better deal in TN), Winston, Cason, Arenas, Mendenhall, Feely and Shaughnessy all walk.

    Limited cap space to add many free agents, unless Keim get’s a restructure completed on Fitz, Dockett and or Colledge (guessing Colledge would be the first to be asked)

    My big impact Free agent “get” would be B Albert at Left Tackle which would move Sowell to backup swing and release Potter. Letting Winston leave would move Massie as Starting RT. My other two free agent signs would be N. Carroll at CB and G. Gano at Kicker.

    My draft (if the above is accomplished) would be:
    Round 1: R. Hageman DE/DT
    Round 2: C. Loston SS
    Round 3: C.J. Fiedorowicz TE
    Round 4: R. Grant WR
    Round 5: J. Wilder Jr. RB
    Round 6: B. Jackson CB
    Round 7: S. Morris QB

  4. By Corgon on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    I’d like to see a new Qb via Draft. Palmer is more than ok, but a new own project would be nice.
    A complete TE also would be nice. Get back King or Ballard (of course healt is above everything) and get one big, blockable, pass catching TE via draft or FA (probably via draft, because complete TEs aren’t cheap.
    RB, WR are ok. Besides injuries I don’t care. We’ll have a speedster WR that’s pretty sure and someone will be here instead of Andre Roberts that is even more sure (I’ll miss him, but wish him all the best anywhere).
    OL will be addressed somehow, it’s Keim’s problem now 🙂 But ok I think we’ll have a new LT via free agency and a G steal in the 4th round. Is it too specific, just wait and see…
    it’ll be good to see Karlos and Matt back, but we have Minter, Okafor and several guys in several ways if one of them will depart.
    A new safety is a must. Jefferson would be an ideal option, but we need someone else as well.
    ….and a kicker. I like Jay. Really. But his kickoffs aren’t good. Sad but true.

    We need a good offseason and the tem will be ready for a good 2014/15

  5. By D on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    I just don’t see AZ drafting a left tackle in round one and starting next to Cooper who will be a rookie at Left G. Basically Sowell was a rookie this year at Left tackle and Palmer paid for it.

    I think they will keep Ryan Williams since his resume is short on production to go with a injury history that no other team would offer any compensation for him. So, I would have him as my Kick returner and have him work his way in a rotation with our other RB’s in 2014-his salary is low.

    I also see 2014 as Darnell’s last year with AZ if they are able to draft a difference maker on the DL. A good run with one team.

  6. By Hammy on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Main player to sign on defense is LOS! I would also like to see us bring in Terrel Suggs from Baltimore. I heard he was gonna be a free agent. I trust management to bring in the right players for our program. I feel if we dont make the playoffs next year it will be very disappointing for the Cardinals and pumped up fan base. With us getting back all our players from IR, we are just a couple of pieces away from a playoff birth.

  7. By shannon robinson on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Steve Keim and Bruce Arians are brutally honest and very direct at telling us their plans and how they will go about accomplishing their objectives. It is clear that they have guaranteed a strong offensive line for Carson Palmer this year. BA also just told us he wants a dominant speed pass rusher. They are both relentless about working on a need until it is filled. TE is a great example : the Cards are bringing in three B-Ball players and tried a 7th round flyer last draft. It tells me we will have a Jimmy Graham eventually. We drafted Swope and brought in Britton and Teddy because BA’s offense requires a speedball WR. We all have our favorites so get ready for heartbreak. Money rules now and I’m open to listen to what they say and watch how they create and coach this next roster.

  8. By Steve on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Guys what about drafting Auburn OLB-DE Dee Ford in the 1st round? He was a Senior Bowl MVP after notching 2 sacks and is a speed rusher with a quick first step.

  9. By ored on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    i also agree we get a starting LT in free agency,takes the pressure off of drafting one early and having to rely on a rookie learning at palmers’ expense,also leaves us completely free to go bpa,and i like all the choices put forward.would be nice to get the ND o-lineman,he could fill so many positions and could be the future at RG or center.

    keep forgetting we have jefferson,so no need to panic there,but i would be ok if a top db dropped to us.don’t think one of the top olb drops to us,so we just add where we can and sack by committee and hope abraham keeps using his fountain of youth serum.

    i think we make strides in our o-line and TE this year,which should help all phases of the offense.our secondary seemed to be coming around towards seasons end,so i would look to add another young body and keep the best from last year.1st 3 rounds look really solid,and if keim finds good good prospects and depth later,we should be fine.also like the small school qb(garapola) with the quick release at rnd.3,accurately getting rid of the rock quickly covers alot of deficincies,such as small school competition and not having a rocket launcher,as long as he makes the necessary throws with enough zip to keep them from the cb,he will be ok.

    anyway it’s fun to guess,but management has done well so far,so here’s to staying the course.

  10. By the way - Dr. G. on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    Back up in Darren’s writeup, click on the highlighted words ” a link to a roster breakdown.

    I think this link is a copy… See what you think…good stuff…

  11. By Darren Urban on Jan 28, 2014 | Reply

    Dr. G, everyone —

    RE: Breakdown

    Or you can just click on the image at the bottom.

  12. By georgiebird on Jan 27, 2014 | Reply

    We will disagree mostly at LB. Even if all the LBs return, this unit needs a big time upgrade. When John Abraham (at the tail end of his career) is the Cards Pro Bowl representative at LB, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
    With the Cards sticking with the 3-4 defense, it’s time to have some big, fast LBs via the draft or FA.
    This season will be a very difficult one for the Cards to better 2013. LBs who can dominate a game are one of the team’s primary needs.

  13. By Big Ken on Jan 28, 2014 | Reply

    Lots of talk of Branden Albert being pursued by the Cardinals in free agency. I read something interesting that he is more inclined to re-up with the Chiefs now that they are a winner with Andy Reid. So who knows with him. I think that the Cards draft an LT.

  14. By Big Ken on Jan 28, 2014 | Reply

    ‘comfortable with Fitz’s contract’? are you kidding me?

  15. By Christian R on Jan 28, 2014 | Reply

    If we learned anything last year with Keim and Arians, it’s that they don’t want to go spend big money on a free agent who. They don’t really have the money to go sign a big-name free agent, not with the draft and other roster positions to fill. So, even if Albert hits the FA market, I don’t see him signing with the Cardinals. Next year’s LT will either be Sowell (still not great, but showed improvement), a low-profile free agent (B. McKinnie or A. Collins would be the biggest names I would expect), or a draft pick (Taylor Lewan, James Hurst, anyone but Cyrus Kouandjio).

    I personally think that Winston is enough of an upgrade over Massie (at this point in his career) that he should be back, at least for one more year. Dansby was a standout, and he has come close enough to seeing a year without a team that I see him signing back with the Cardinals. Feely doesn’t have the power that a younger kicker would, but he’s still accurate enough to bring back. Shaughnessy is a wild card; I have no clue if he will decide to leave or stay. I like Roberts. Different receivers stepped up with the potential to replace Roberts, though.

  16. By ored on Jan 28, 2014 | Reply

    pretty sure they draft LT also,but i think keim and BA know we need immediate help,more than a rookie would bring in his 1st year,so we also shop free agency,albert is not the only one on the market,i think pretty much any veteran help would be an improvement and let him and a draft pick push each other,actually i think we get to choose from a pretty good o-line prospect or a top db,seeing as much early attention will be going to qb’s,pass rushers,d-line,and the concensus LT’s and the top rated reciever.i would still feel more comfortable at 14 or 15 but maybe somebody reaches at qb or elsewhere and we get value at a position of need.if not then maybe somebody from tier 2 steps up and shines,happens at some position every year,a 2nd day pick plays like a top ten pick.think 3rd and 6th rounds for us last year.

  17. By John The Draft Guy on Jan 29, 2014 | Reply


    I think one can argue that, besides a LT, a wr is a top priority this offseason.

    I think BA has always had that guy who can blow the top off the defense (Mike Wallace / TY Hilton). I think that is why we saw guys like Golden brought in.

    I would not be surprised if the address this on day 2 of the draft (2nd or 3rd)
    PS – Both Wallace and Hilton were drafted in round 3. and last year, they thought they drafted that guy in Swope until he retired.


    Abraham was a probowler (don’t see why that is sad- he beat LTs a lot younger than him), DWash was a probowler last year, Most feel Dansby was robbed of the probowl and it could be argued he was a MVP. (122 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 4 ints, 2 TDs)
    The cards drafted a thumper in Minter in round 2 last year and a standout in college and senior bowl in Okefer in round 4 , along with Acho a couple years ago. They then brought in Shannessey who had a very nice year. Not to mention Bernard and Brinkley.

    Now I love passrushing OLBs in the mode of Von Miller and I like a few guys in the first round that might fall to us. I would not be disappointed if they added one of those guys. But to say it is a primary need, well I do not see it. I think the cards have addressed it the last few years drafting DWash and Minter inside and Okefer and Acho outside, while bringing in vets while those players develop.

    Let’s not forget, #1 rushing team. While the linebackers combined for 28.5 sacks (Abraham’s 11.5 sacks lead the way). Linebacker was a strength.

  18. By jasonc on Jan 29, 2014 | Reply

    Christian R-

    I couldn’t agree more with your first statement. Here is the problem with us being able to secure a LT in free agency. The best LT’s entering free agency are Brendan Albert, Eugene Monroe, Jared Veldheer, Anthony Collins and Jordan Gross. The only guy whose team doesn’t have the cap to resign him is Albert. So if all of these other top FA guys re-signs with their teams it will leave the market to Albert, who will probably be too expensive for us, and then secondary guys like Roger Saffold and Marshall Newhouse…neither guy screams major upgrade. Collins is the interesting guy here because he wants to be a starter and Cincinnati has Whitworth and Smith as starters, Collins started last year after they moved Whitworth inside to G because of injuries. Does Cincinnati leave Whitworth inside next season and resign Collins? Do they want to invest that much money in the o-line?

    Here is the flip side that I think fans who are screaming for us to sign a free agent LT aren’t considering. If we spend FA money on a LT that will possibly take us out of the veteran ILB second team all-pro market.

  19. By Big Ken on Jan 29, 2014 | Reply

    Enjoying the coments bloggers. Could they go after a young WR free agent? In light of who may or may not be on the Cardinal roster next season at WR. Emmanuel Sanders-Pittsburgh or Darius Heyward-Bey come to mind as possible new Cardinals.

  20. By Christian R on Jan 30, 2014 | Reply

    Forgot to add this in my earlier comment: I think that Rob Housler will be the main TE and a stand-out TE next year. His production was not what it needed to be this year, but he was dealing with an ankle issue for part of the season and had Fitzgerald, Floyd, Roberts, Ellington, and a surprise in Dray to compete with for targets. This offense has the potential to be potent in the passing game. Housler is the same height and weight as Julius Thomas, but a bit faster. In fact, if we go back to their combine stats, Housler was better than Julius Thomas in everything but broad jump.The same Julius Thomas who caught 12 TDs with the Broncos this season. I doubt the Cardinals will hunt down a TE early in the draft or in FA. I think Dray and Ballard get resigned, but Housler is trusted to carry the weight going into next season.

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