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Cardinals Awards For 2023

Running back James Conner earns votes for Most Valuable Cardinal


The 4-13 season from 2023 felt monumentally different than the previous year's 4-13 record. The optimism that coach Jonathan Gannon brought into the Dignity Health Training Center was felt in the hallways and the Cardinals' fight can be seen on the gridiron. As voted on by a 30-member panel, here are some of the Cardinals key players and plays of the season, recognized by

Offensive Player of the Year: Trey McBride (13 votes)

Others receiving votes: James Conner (12), Kyler Murray (3), Hjalte Froholdt (1), Matt Prater (1)

McBride's 2023 statistics: 81 receptions for 825 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride (85) during the Week 18 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Jan 7, 2024 at State Farm Stadium.

Voter takes on McBride:

"Trey McBride had a breakout season and cemented his role as the No. 1 tight end for the future. McBride was the team's leading receiver by nearly 300 yards, despite coming off the bench in five games. McBride showed massive improvements in his catching and blocking abilities, becoming nearly impossible to tackle on first contact. McBride's production skyrocketed when Kyler Murray returned to the field, which should excite fans when thinking about how lethal that duo can be with a full season." – Dani Sureck, Reporter/Producer

"When the Cardinals needed him the most, Trey McBride has stepped up and made a big-time catch on many occasions. Trey finished top 10 in receptions and yards for all tight ends. Trey not only more than doubled his stats from last season, he proved to be an added weapon in the run game after improving his run blocking." – Kyle Dorony, Manager/Studio and Content Production

"Went from backup to being a top five tight end in the NFL. We've barely scratched the surface on the potential of Trey McBride." - Rob Fredrickson, Cardinals Radio Analyst

"This was the year that McBride established himself as an elite tight end. His 81 catches and 825 receiving yards speak for themselves." – Irving Villanueva, Bilingual Reporter/Producer

"This was McBride's breakout year with impressive milestones reached in just his second season in the league. He now holds the franchise record for most receptions by a TE in a single season (81) and has the second-most receiving yards in team history for a TE (825)." – Sam Hough, Producer/Editor, Marketing/Game Entertainment

"Even though Kyler Murray said that some of his celebrations were awkward, considering the type of numbers Trey McBride put up this season, he can 'geek out' as much as he wants. McBride brought a different kind of spark to the Cardinals offense. The numbers speak for themselves but whether it was refusing to go down after contact or going all out to make a catch, his emergence within the offense was one of the exciting storylines of the season." – Zach Gershman, Staff Writer/Reporter

Defensive Player of the Year: Jalen Thompson (14 votes)

Others receiving votes: Budda Baker (10), Kyzir White (5), Dennis Gardeck (1)

Thompson's 2023 statistics: 78 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 quarterback hits, 4 interceptions, 9 passes defended, 1 forced fumble.

Arizona Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson (34) during the Week 10 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Nov 12, 2023 in Glendale, AZ.

Voter takes on Thompson:

"This was the most difficult choice for me. It was between the two starting safeties, Budda Baker and Thompson. I'm going with Thompson based on the two most important factors, ability and availability. Thompson played 15 games, had nine passes defense, forced a fumble and four interceptions. Baker missed five games. He still made an impact, but it didn't show in the stats." – Kent Somers, Cardinals contributor

"Another close one. Kyzir White was the leader in the clubhouse until he got hurt. But I'm going with Jalen Thompson, who had a career-best four interceptions and also showed versatility to be his normal safety or slot cornerback. Thompson has been in the shadow of Budda Baker his whole career, understandably, but he deserves his flowers in what was overall a rough year for the defense. Thompson is smart and a building block to whatever Nick Rallis wants to put together next year." – Darren Urban, Director of Editorial Content/Senior Writer

"J.T. was a beast. He had four interceptions, nine pass deflections, one forced fumble, 78 total tackles, and five tackles for loss, so what can I say? He's Jalen 'The Sheriff' Thompson" – Luis Hernandez, Spanish Radio Play-by-Play

"Thompson had a very good season having the third-most tackles on the team with 78, but also leading the Cardinals in interceptions with four." – Cody Fincher, Associate Producer, Radio and Podcasts

"Pro Bowl vote or not, Jalen Thompson was the consistent backend piece to Nick Rallis' defense that showed up in every game he played." – Matthew Venezia, Intern

"He continues to be a difference maker for the defense. He is a smart and savvy defender that makes up for the lack of talent at other positions on the defense." – Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cardinals radio analyst

Newcomer of the Year: Paris Johnson Jr. (15 votes)

Others receiving votes: Kyzir White (8), Hjalte Froholdt (2), Dante Stills (2), Michael Carter (1), Michael Wilson (1), Kei'Trel Clark (1)

Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (70) during the Week 15 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Dec 17, 2023 in Glendale, AZ.

Voter takes on Johnson Jr.:

"Start every game, play every snap, all while lining up against Aaron Donald, Nick Bosa, T.J. Watt, Myles Garrett, Will Anderson, Montez Sweat, Trey Hendrickson, all while avoiding the 'rookie wall.' #Ding" – Paul Calvisi, Reporter/Host

"Paris played every single offensive snap this season and he definitely made a huge impact on the run game." – Caitlyn Epes, Team Photographer

"The amount of support he gave at the line and playing 100 percent of all 1,133 offensive snaps, self-explanatory." – Ethan Hajas, Graphic Designer

"He stepped in and contributed at a high level, immediately shoring up a tackle spot for the cards." – Patrick Smith, Digital Strategist

Play of the Year: James Conner's one-handed touchdown vs Philadelphia (11 votes)

Others receiving votes: Fake field-goal touchdown pass to Trey McBride vs Seattle (6), Kyler Murray third-down scramble vs Atlanta (5), McBride's 17-yard tush push touchdown vs Baltimore (3), Kyzir White's game-winning interception vs Dallas (1), Murray 48-yard touchdown pass to Rondale Moore vs Houston (1), Conner's game-winning touchdown run vs Philadelphia (1), McBride diving reception to go over 100 yards vs Atlanta (1), Murray's overall comeback in Philadelphia (1)

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) makes a one-handed touchdown catch in front of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nicholas Morrow during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Voter takes on Conner's one-handed touchdown:

"For starters, let's acknowledge the athleticism of Kyler Murray. He escaped the grasp of Josh Sweat, turned his back to the defense, threw off his back foot and placed the football where only Conner could reach. And Conner did, extending out his right hand to make the catch, bringing the football tight to his chest; all with a defender draped over him. Incredible." – Craig Grialou, Digital Content Coordinator

"Kyler did Kyler things and Conner did Conner things. This play summed up the fight that our team has displayed all year." – Chad Burns, Creative Illustrator 

Beyond the Box Score Player of the Year: Hjalte Froholdt (10 votes)

Others receiving votes: Paris Johnson Jr. (8), Dennis Gardeck (3), Greg Dortch (2), Budda Baker (1), Aaron Brewer (1), Will Hernandez (1), Jonathan Ledbetter (1), Jalen Thompson (1), Trey McBride (1), Matt Prater (1)

Arizona Cardinals offensive lineman Hjalte Froholdt (72) during the Week 12 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Nov 26, 2023 in Glendale, AZ.

"This is the perfect category for an offensive lineman. Hjalte Froholdt, also known as The Danish Army Knife and The Desert Viking, proved to be a great veteran presence. Upon signing as a free agent last spring, it was not known exactly what his role would become. Froholdt turned into a key piece of an offensive line that was charged with protecting three different quarterbacks in 2023. His value was also seen in the run game where the Cardinals rushed for 150 or more yards in six different games, including four games of over 200 yards. When you watch the film, Froholdt was routinely out front paving the way for big gains downfield. A nice bonus for the media and fans is that Froholdt is a great interview!" - Jim Omohundro, Director/Executive Producer, Radio and Audio Content

"Similar to Paris, Froholdt was a major contributor to an underrated offensive line group that over the season became dominant rushing the ball. Although not talked about often, the center position is one that requires both skill and intelligence. He demonstrated that in his first year in the system and with multiple quarterbacks, all while performing at a high level." – Matthew Vaske, Associate Producer

"Froholdt repeatedly showed up and got the job done at a high level. Furthermore, it was evident in almost every "Wired" episode his great impact to the team as a leader vocally, motivating other players and continually having a positive attitude." – Zach Fletcher, Senior Manager, Content and Creative

"Froholdt was the consummate professional. He played with three different quarterbacks yet provided stability and leadership on the offensive line." - Dave Pasch, Radio Play-by-Play

Most Valuable Cardinal: James Conner (18 votes)

Others receiving votes: Kyler Murray (10), Budda Baker (1), Jonathan Gannon (1)

Conner's 2023 statistics: 208 carries for 1,040 yards, 7 rushing touchdowns; 27 receptions for 165 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns.

Arizona Cardinals running back James Conner (6) during the Week 17 regular season game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec 31, 2023 in Philadelphia, PA.

"Football is a game that speaks to the threefold nature of man: body, soul and spirit. All three have to be in line for a player to play well. James Conner had all three in line and his body, soul and spirit inspired players around him. Not only did he produce in between the white lines, but his play challenged those around him to be better in all three phases." – Ron Wolfley, Radio Analyst

"Hands down the heart and soul of the team. Most productive player on the offensive side." – Jacob Ortiz, Manager, TV/Streaming Programs

"James Conner finished the season with 1,040 rushing yards which is his career-high and helped the Cardinals finish fourth in total yard rushing in the NFL. Let's not forget Conner missed four games this season which makes this even more impressive. Conner also adds an entirely different level to the team when he plays. Those four games he missed, the entire offense did not feel the same. He has become our main focus and heart of the offense. His leadership on and off the field is what makes him my pick for the Most Valuable Cardinal of 2023." – Jose Romero, Spanish Radio Analyst

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