The Cardinals need to upgrade the roster after a poor 2018 season, and while the No. 1 overall pick awaits in April, first comes free agency. General Manager Steve Keim has significant cap space to use for the first time in his tenure and could be aggressive. We will take a look at each position group in the days leading up to free agency, which begins on March 13.
Free agent primer: Wide Receiver
Cap hit of players under contract for 2019 (via OverTheCap.com): Larry Fitzgerald ($11 million); Christian Kirk ($1.34 million); Chad Williams ($848,072); Pharoh Cooper ($720,000); Trent Sherfield ($573,333); Jalen Tolliver ($570,000); Malachi Dupre ($495,000); Bryant Mitchell ($495,000).
Scheduled free agents: J.J. Nelson
Images of notable pass-catchers scheduled to hit the open market
Analysis: The return of Fitzgerald brings much-needed stability to the wide receiver room, but there is still work to be done. The future Hall of Famer will be an anchor piece, as will Kirk, who succeeded immediately as a rookie. While that’s a good start, there is plenty of unknown outside of that pair.
Williams has yet to live up to his third-round billing, while Sherfield is aiming to carve out a bigger role after making the team in 2018 as an undrafted free agent. Cooper, Tolliver, Dupre and Mitchell are largely unproven in the NFL.
The team’s lone free agent is Nelson, who had only seven catches for 64 yards last season after being the main deep threat in previous seasons. He has unteachable speed but drops have been a problem.
The wide receiver free agent crop is not especially deep, with no true superstars on the market. Fitzgerald’s return makes that easier to accept, but the Cardinals could still use a talent infusion at the position. There were too many times last season in which the receivers’ lack of separation made life tough on quarterback Josh Rosen.
Kingsbury is expected to throw often in 2019, which will seemingly make wide receiver additions – through free agency or the draft – a priority this offseason.
Notable past free agent wide receiver signings: Brice Butler (2018); Ted Ginn (2014); Sean Morey (2007)