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Breaking Down The Cardinals' Roster After 2020

Cap crunch, 28 UFAs will make for a interesting offseason for GM Steve Keim

Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (21) and Dre Kirkpatrick (right), celebrating a play in New York against the Giants this season, are among 28 unrestricted free-agents-to-be for the Cardinals.
Cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (21) and Dre Kirkpatrick (right), celebrating a play in New York against the Giants this season, are among 28 unrestricted free-agents-to-be for the Cardinals.

It will be an offseason unlike any other before it, impacted by COVID.

The Cardinals, with a whopping 28 unrestricted free-agents-to-be and another three that are restricted, will have to figure out how to maneuver the landscape.

The NFL looks like it will manage to get through a season with so many coronavirus hurdles, but COVID pains will drag into team-building in 2021. Because of lost revenues though the absence of fans, the salary cap – which has been consistently rising about $10 million a season for a while – is expected to drop significantly.

It was around $198 million in 2020; the 2021 number might be as low as $175 million. And that's the foundation with which Cardinals general manager Steve Keim must use for a team looking to improve on its 8-8 record.

"It certainly poses some problems," Keim said recently on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "We're going to have to work off of a salary cap number of $175 (million), and if somehow it changes, that's icing on the cake for us. But that's sort of how we have to operate right now.

"As far as the decisions that are going to have to be made, it's a number of things that are moving parts at this point. Again, we're not sure if the cap climbs a little bit, when we get that information, and then as far as these (free agent) players, what's their market, what are their expectations. So many things go into it."

Among the players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents: cornerback Patrick Peterson, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, linebackers Haason Reddick and Markus Golden, running back Kenyan Drake and defensive lineman Corey Peters.

Peterson's future remains up in the air. Fitzgerald must decide about retirement first. Reddick's star turn at pass rusher might drive his price tag out of the Cardinals' range, and with Chandler Jones already here, Reddick's decision might impact if Golden can return.

"Obviously there are a number of them we'd like to have back," Keim said. "Again, really proud of some of these young guys and how they have grown over the years."

With the season coming to a close, azcardinals.com writer Darren Urban gives his personal take on the majority of the Cardinals' roster heading into the offseason. UFA is unrestricted free agent. RFA is restricted free agent (and whose movement can be controlled with a tender offer, which gives right of first refusal). ER is exclusive rights, meaning a player must accept a tender offer.

Free agency figures to play a big role in how the roster evolves for next season, given all the free-agents-to-be. Comments are for today and the future for any particular player is fluid.

Table inside Article
QUARTERBACKS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Brett Hundley *UFA* After No. 3 status all year, could move on
Kyler Murray 2022 Made a jump in Year 2 but big things will be expected in 2021
Chris Streveler 2022 Rough appearance in finale; Cards may seek another No. 2
Table inside Article
RUNNING BACKS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Eno Benjamin 2023 Rookie was basically redshirted; Can he find 2021 role?
Kenyan Drake *UFA* Tagged last year but this year, figures to test market
Chase Edmonds 2021 Proved to be an important piece of the offense
D.J. Foster *UFA* Lot of practice squad time but coaches still relied on veteran
Jonathan Ward 2021 TD in finale showed potential promise
Table inside Article
WIDE RECEIVERS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Larry Fitzgerald *UFA* Will he or won't he? And will dwindling role impact decision?
DeAndre Hopkins 2024 The Cards traded for an All-Pro, he gave them all-pro play
Andy Isabella 2022 Disappointing second year, and future seems murky
KeeSean Johnson 2022 Moved up the depth chart as the season went along
Christian Kirk 2021 Had some big games/plays early but quiet down the stretch
Trent Sherfield *RFA* Continues to be valuable on special teams
Table inside Article
TIGHT ENDS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Dan Arnold *UFA* Had flashes as pass-catching weapon
Darrell Daniels *UFA* When healthy, served role as blocker/special teams
Seth DeValve *UFA* All the injuries made his signing necessary
Maxx Williams 2021 Solid when he played, but ankle injury derailed half of season
Table inside Article
OFFENSIVE LINE SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Kelvin Beachum (T) *UFA* Veteran provided steady play, leadership as a late signee
Mason Cole (C) 2021 Had an up-and-down season as he returned to starting role
Lamont Gaillard (C) 2022 Got some playing time for the first time - can he push Cole for starting job?
Max Garcia (C/G) *UFA* Returned from knee injury to provide depth
Marcus Gilbert (T) 2021 Was COVID opt-out, will try to earn spot
D.J. Humphries (T) 2022 Had a very good season after signing extension
Josh Jones (T) 2023 Presumptive future right tackle
Joshua Miles (T) 2022 Mostly inactive but Cards still saw potential
Justin Murray (G) 2022 Supplanted Sweezy as starting right guard
Justin Pugh (G) 2022 Steady season, only giving up one sack, although 9 penalties more than he'd like
J.R. Sweezy (G) *UFA* After losing starting job seems unlikely to return
Table inside Article
DEFENSIVE LINE SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Zach Allen 2022 Flashed more as season went on, but another step up needed
Angelo Blackson *UFA* Provided needed solid season after arrival
Michael Dogbe Signed future deal Spent year on practice squad
Leki Fotu 2023 Has the physical tools and did some good things as rookie
Rashard Lawrence 2023 Injury set him back but also had some good rookie moments
Josh Mauro *UFA* Helpful before he got hurt
Domata Peko *UFA* Another in-season signee because of injuries
Corey Peters *UFA* Locker-room leader, on-field anchor. For right price, makes sense to bring back
Jordan Phillips 2023 Injuries helped make for disappointing first season for free-agent signee
Table inside Article
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Kylie Fitts *ERFA* Helped as depth off edge
Dennis Gardeck *RFA* Amazing impact on defense; Cards will find a way to keep him
Markus Golden *UFA* He loves to be a Cardinal, but his chance to return may tie to Reddick future
Isaiah Irving *UFA* Signed to help but got hurt right away
Chandler Jones 2021 Will be looking to bounce back from injury in his contract year
Devon Kennard 2022 Didn't make the impact Cardinals had counted upon
Haason Reddick *UFA* From struggling to star, and now we see the price. To tag would be $13M-$15M
Table inside Article
INSIDE LINEBACKERS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
De'Vondre Campbell *UFA* Solid season, but with Simmons poised to take position, likely moves on
Jordan Hicks 2022 Remains one of the leaders of the defense
Isaiah Simmons 2023 Cards will be counting on him to be ready from jump next season
Ezekiel Turner *RFA* Had a big year on special teams and figures to stick around
Tanner Vallejo *UFA* Helped in reserve role and on special teams; could see a return
Evan Weaver Signed future deal Former draft pick trying to find way to stick
Table inside Article
CORNERBACKS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Robert Alford 2021 After two major injuries in two years, Cards have to decide if they can count on him
Johnathan Joseph *UFA* Helped briefly, before veteran got hurt
Dre Kirkpatrick *UFA* Had some good moments, some bad. Key training camp pickup but Cards need youth
Byron Murphy 2022 Improved and looks more comfortable in the slot corner role
Kevin Peterson *UFA* Depth guy; Would think Cards will try and upgrade
Patrick Peterson *UFA* Isn't what he was but still the Cards' best CB. Market figures to dictate if he returns
Jace Whittaker Signed future deal Undrafted rookie impressed enough to be active for a couple games
Table inside Article
SAFETIES SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Budda Baker 2024 Star. Leader. Emerging face of the defense
Chris Banjo *UFA* Injuries pressed him into more of a defensive role than Cards would've preferred
Deionte Thompson 2022 Evolving into a depth piece
Jalen Thompson 2022 Played well when he played, but was hurt most of the season
Charles Washington *UFA* An important part of special teams
Table inside Article
SPECIALISTS SIGNED THROUGH COMMENT
Aaron Brewer 2021 You don't hear about him, which is a good thing
Zane Gonzalez *UFA* Missed some key kicks and it leaves his future in doubt
Andy Lee *UFA* Had lowest punting average since 2006 and it was still a pretty good 44.8 yards
Brett Maher signed future deal Veteran kicker signed as Cards try to figure out position
Mike Nugent *UFA* Filled in well at end of season but age may stop his shot at full-time gig
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