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.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|