The Cardinals will have some tough decisions to make on the roster, including with Matt Shaughnessy and the defensive line.
DENVER – From the start, the Cardinals talked about their depth – and what it might mean as the hours wound down in the preseason.
Now, the Cards are here, on the eve of their preseason finale against the Broncos, just a few days away from paring their roster for a final time. The roster stands at 75 players, still 22 over the magical total of 53 each NFL team is allowed in the regular season.
Normally, there are only a handful of spots left to determine. This time, Bruce Arians said, it's not quite as simple, with the
coach estimating there are still 10 or 12 roster spots that could change.
Add in the 10 practice squad slots the Cardinals will fill, and "you're talking about 22 spots on the roster that are still up for grabs."
To think there are still a dozen on the 53 that could change feels like an exaggeration, especially when you figure in injuries. Then again, maybe it's the injuries Arians is counting – say, for instance, that guard Mike Iupati is somehow healthy enough to return for the regular-season opener. If not, there is a tangle of offensive linemen that must be sorted, moving puzzle pieces that includes the uncertainty surrounding any potential suspension for tackle Bobby Massie. As of now, Massie is set to be available for the regular-season opener against the Saints.
But there are plenty of other areas where the Cards must make a decision.
The secondary got a big interception return from rookie Cariel Brooks in Oakland, but was that enough to force his way on to the roster as a fourth cornerback? Where do the Cardinals turn at running back? On the defensive line, where there are too many too keep? Are the Cardinals going to be forced to keep a fifth tight end given the injuries to Troy Niklas and Jermaine Gresham?
Back in June, General Manager Steve Keim saw these choices coming.
"I have to be active and make sure I address that situation so we are not just releasing players and allowing teams to pick them up," Keim said. "Hopefully we can be active and get some solid value for guys who can help other teams."
Whether a trade is executed remains to be seen. The waiver wire also could impact that final roster, as the Cards scour the cuts from the rest of the league.
"There will be some tough decisions," Arians said, "with that last three or four guys."
The top images from the Cardinals' third preseason game in Oakland