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What's Left To Do

Posted May 3, 2011

After draft, Cards await offseason to further adjust the roster

The Cardinals still have work to do for their 2011 roster.


At this point, so much of the Cards’ roster remains uncertain.

Normally the minicamp would be on deck for the weekend, and the coaches would be prepared to see their entire 80-man group for the first time. Instead, the Cards added eight players in last week’s draft and that’s all.

No undrafted rookies, and no free agents. Yet.

“This draft is a little different in light of the fact it comes before free agency,” general manager Rod Graves said. “After we’ve had a chance to go through the complete process, then I think we’ll know exactly how we have done this offseason.”

Assessing where the Cards are right now is difficult at best and impossible at worst. Without the ability to make player moves during the current labor situation, there are too many unknowns to be certain of anything.

“We’re going to be aggressive in improving our football team,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the conclusion of the draft. “We’re going to have an opportunity to address the other areas.

“We have a clear plan of action of what we want to do. We’re just waiting to execute it.”

With that in mind, a look at the spots that figure to be highest on that plan of action:

Quarterback – This was going to be a need even if the Cards drafted a signal-caller, if for no other reason than to get a veteran in there for the short-term. Now that the Cards didn’t take one draft weekend, it has become clear their plan all along was to find a veteran to do the job.

There are plenty of names about which to speculate, whether it is a trade for Kevin Kolb (or Kyle Orton or Carson Palmer) or signing a free agent like Marc Bulger or Matt Hasselbeck. The Cardinals will need to find one – presumably to pair with the still-developing John Skelton – as they try to balance building for the future against winning a winnable division.

Offensive line – The Cards, surprisingly, did not take an offensive lineman in the draft. Given how many expired contracts are coming (Alan Faneca, Deuce Lutui and Lyle Sendlein all need new deals whenever the league year starts) there was a thought they would cover themselves with another piece, especially with tackle Brandon Keith still unproven and the center position thin even if Sendlein returns.

The Cards still have Levi Brown, who is expected to remain in place as the left tackle. Everything else – for now – is in limbo as far as line starters. There should be, in free agency, decent linemen who are available, so it’s possible the Cards may be eyeing a change in that regard.

Linebacker – The Cards did grab pass-rusher-to-be Sam Acho and inside man Quan Sturdivant in the draft, and both should end up making contributions. But as a unit, nothing may be as big of an unknown as this one, with the futures of highly-paid Joey Porter and Gerald Hayes in question and the impact of 2010 draft pick O’Brien Schofield needed yet unknown. Will Davis is coming off foot surgery, and additional outside veteran depth could still probable be used at both the inside and outside spots.

There are other spots that could be targeted, of course. Depending on how the Cards’ own free agents sort themselves out, the Cards might want to look at a veteran at tight end, or defensive line, or maybe wide receiver. It will be interesting to see what rookie free agents are eventually signed.

In the meantime, the Cards are – as usual – happy with the draftees, and the roles each could potentially fill.

“I think we’ve come out with an outstanding start (to the offseason),” Graves said.
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