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Breaking Down The Cardinals' Roster After 2021

GM Steve Keim dealing with 21 unrestricted free agents but larger cap number

Wide receiver A.J. Green, running back Chase Edmonds and wide receiver Christian Kirk are among the Cardinals' free-agents-to-be this offseason.
Wide receiver A.J. Green, running back Chase Edmonds and wide receiver Christian Kirk are among the Cardinals' free-agents-to-be this offseason.

Kliff Kingsbury talked about tough decisions to be made this offseason, and frankly, there are usually tough decisions every year when it comes to free agents and roster construction.

But maybe there is truly something to it this time around.

The Cards have fewer unrestricted free-agents-to-be, but with the players attached to some of those UFA markers, it creates a lot of uncertainty around what the Cardinals do if certain players aren't around. With no one is that more apparent than outside linebacker Chandler Jones, who turns 32 next month and had another double-digit sack season. Jones' year was not as prolific as most of his other Arizona seasons -- he had five sacks in the opener and finished with 10.5 -- but if he were to leave, the Cardinals would be faced with a gaping hole at one of the most important positions on the field.

James Conner had a fantastic year with 18 touchdowns, and his pairing with Chase Edmonds seemed perfect. But both players play a position with a short shelf life, and both are free agents looking to get what might be their last big contract.

Christian Kirk and A.J. Green were the two top wideouts after DeAndre Hopkins, and both can leave.

And then there is backup quarterback Colt McCoy, who not only played well and won two of three starts, but served a perfect role as older mentor to Kyler Murray.

The salary cap does jump significantly, up $25.7 million to $208.2M. The Cardinals should have another million or two more than that in total cap space after rolling over what little was left over from 2021. But even before free agency, the Cardinals are facing some big cap number jumps from players like Hopkins (up $13M from 2021), safety Budda Baker ($7M), defensive lineman J.J. Watt ($11M) and center Rodney Hudson ($9.5M). That'll eat up space.

Teams can re-sign their own free agents at any time. Teams can start talking to free agents from other teams on March 14, with free agency (and the new league year) beginning on March 16. Teams can't begin trading until the new league year, although trades can and have been agreed to before then.

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). ERFA 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
QUARTERBACKSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Colt McCoy*UFA*Need back; Proved excellent resource for Kyler, and went 2-1 too
Trace McSorley2022Will be interesting to see if he showed enough to be No. 3
Kyler Murray2022Franchise QB started strong, finished slow. What does Year 4 look like?
Table inside Article
RUNNING BACKSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Eno Benjamin2023Finally got a chance to play some and might have opportunity if Edmonds leaves
James Conner*UFA*Excellent signing, but can Cardinals manage to keep him or will money elsewhere be too great?
Chase Edmonds*UFA*What you want with work ethic, but still was banged up. What will be cost?
Jonathan Ward*ERFA*He'll be part of the plans in 2022
Table inside Article
WIDE RECEIVERSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Greg Dortch2022Impressed in training camp and showed talent with some brief looks
A.J. Green*UFA*Stayed healthy, made some big plays, wasn't quite able to make others
DeAndre Hopkins2024He's one of the best in the league, and it showed when he was absent with injury
Andy Isabella2022Couldn't get on the field. Might be time for change of scenery
Christian Kirk*UFA*Will be fascinating to see what his free-agent market looks like; Wants to stay
Rondale Moore2024Would expect an expanded role next season
Antoine Wesley*ERFA*Worth having around after he made some plays in Hop's absence
Table inside Article
TIGHT ENDSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Darrell Daniels*UFA*Lost some playing time when others were healthy
Zach Ertz*UFA*Can be significant part of pass game if they can manage to re-sign him
Demetrius Harris*UFA*Turned up as a No. 2, although the Cards may want to upgrade
Benhard SeikovitsSigned future dealDevelopmental player will get at least another offseason
David WellsSigned future dealFilled in late in the season and will compete for No. 3 role
Maxx Williams*UFA*Injury cost him best season; Williams/Ertz combo would be intriguing if he stays
Table inside Article
OFFENSIVE LINESIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Kelvin Beachum (T)2022Great in community, locker room; does JJones have chance to supplant him?
Max Garcia (G/C)*UFA*Earned starting job but Cardinals likely will look to upgrade
Sean Harlow (G)2022Proved himself to be good depth piece
Marcus Henry (C)2022Served as insurance but never played
Rodney Hudson (C)2023The Cardinals needed to be better at center and Hudson proved to be that guy
D.J. Humphries (T)2022Still an important piece although didn't play as well down the stretch as early
Josh Jones (G/T)2023Work in progress but has to figure out how to play penalty-free
Joshua Miles (T)2022Hasn't made inroads for playing time yet
Justin Murray (G/T)2022Back injury derailed starting guard opportunity
Justin Pugh (G)2022Steady season after taking paycut; what happens with last year of his deal?
Table inside Article
DEFENSIVE LINESIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Zach Allen2022Became an important part of the defensive line, but still looks to improve
Jack Crawford*UFA*Training camp fill-in got hurt early
Michael Dogbe*RFA*Finally got a chance to play as a rotational guy; could see him return as depth
Leki Fotu2023Had his moments; Cardinals still need him as run stuffer
Rashard Lawrence2023Injuries have been an issue as he learns the game
Corey Peters*UFA*Veteran signed late to become key piece, although status likely depends on rest of unit
Jordan Phillips2022Felled by injury again, Cardinals have to decide whether to keep on last year of deal
J.J. Watt2022Amazing comeback to play in playoffs; Cardinals could use 17 games of him
Table inside Article
OUTSIDE LINEBACKERSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Kylie Fitts*RFA*Concussion ended his year early
Dennis Gardeck*UFA*Coming off ACL, didn't have same sack impact but still important on special teams
Markus Golden2022Got back to his double-digit sack ways; his energy infectious for team
Chandler Jones*UFA*Jones faces free agency, a situation much like Patrick Peterson last year. Still Cards' best pass rusher
Devon Kennard2022Snaps shrunk this season with Jones back full-time
Victor Dimukeje2024Golden-esque rookie played a little bit but Cardinals like him
Table inside Article
INSIDE LINEBACKERSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Zaven Collins2024Playing time dried up; First-round pick needs to make big jump in Year 2
Jordan Hicks2022Led team in defensive snaps, but Cardinals might want to get younger
Isaiah Simmons2023Did improve from his rookie year but can get better
Ezekiel Turner*UFA*Key special teamer missed big chunk of season with injury
Tanner Vallejo2022Was supposed to be depth and then passed Collins on depth chart
Joe WalkerSigned future dealJust when you think he's gone, the Cardinals keep him. And play him.
Table inside Article
CORNERBACKSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Robert Alford*UFA*Played well before season-ending injury. With age, Cards will have to consider money, other options
Breon BordersSigned future dealStruggled when he played late in season, but Cards saw enough to bring back
Antonio Hamilton*UFA*Turned out to be a key addition after starting on practice squad
Byron Murphy Jr.,2022Played at a Pro Bowl level early in the season; could use a top-end partner
Jace WhittakerSigned future dealHas done enough to keep around as depth for now
Marco Wilson2024Rookie earned his way as starter and gave himself a base to build from
Table inside Article
SAFETIESSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Budda Baker2024He is the heart and soul of the defense
Chris Banjo*UFA*Continues to be one of those vets who finds a role
Deionte Thompson2022Has never made a push for significant playing time
Jalen Thompson2022Had his best season and remains a good pairing with Baker
Charles Washington*UFA*The Cards were hurt on special teams when he went down
James Wiggins2022Injury wrecked rookie season
Table inside Article
SPECIALISTSSIGNED THROUGHCOMMENT
Aaron Brewer*UFA*After long snapping issues when he was hurt, the Cards need him
Andy Lee*UFA*Remains steady even at his advancing age
Matt Prater2022When he had his snapper and holder, as good as anyone in game

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