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Monti Ossenfort Warns Of 'Dangers' In Free Agency

Cardinals GM emphasizes draft will be where team builds foundation

GM Monti Ossenfort watches over a training camp practice in 2023.
GM Monti Ossenfort watches over a training camp practice in 2023.

Monti Ossenfort understands how crucial the next month will be for building his 2024 roster.

Draft preparation is ongoing, with the Scouting combine starting next week and the Cardinals getting the key interviews and medical information on the players. Pro days will also be part of the equation. But adding players through free agency are the first concrete steps -- the free agency period begins March 15 -- and with estimated salary cap space of more than $40 million, the general manager has more room to operate than in his first offseason.

How that plays out, Ossenfort isn't saying. But during an appearance for "Newsmakers Week" Thursday on Arizona Sports, 98.7, the Cardinals boss made clear whatever is done in free agency serves only as an add-on to what the Cardinals do annually in the draft.

"We are definitely going to be active in free agency. What does that mean? I can't spell that out for you right now," Ossenfort said. "I don't know what that means because we don't completely control that. There is a market and players we think are going to be available right now that two weeks from now are not going to be available. Free agency is full of unknowns in that respect, and there are dangers in free agency.

"The nature of free agency, you end up overpaying. That's how it works. It's full of mistakes. That's not to say there are not things you can fix there. We will take our chances and there will be times we will find ways to supplement our roster, but ultimately we are going to build this team, and what we are going to be moving forward, through the draft."

Ossenfort was asked about the top prospects of the draft class at the wide receiver position, but other than acknowledging the fact the wideout spot is talented, he kept the door wide open on the team's options and the positions they seek, whether it was the draft or free agency.

"We have a lot of needs. We really do. That's a product of the NFL," Ossenfort said. "We have plenty of room for improvement.

"We're never going to turn down good players. Our list of needs is good players that fit us."

The draft -- in which the Cardinals have 11 selections -- is still more than two months away. The players in free agency come first, but Ossenfort made clear it wouldn't be the cure for what the Cardinals are trying to accomplish.

"Ultimately the draft has got to be where we build and where this team forms the foundation of what we are going to be moving forward," Ossenfort said. "It's the place where we get the most swings at it, and we get to pick and choose the players that we want."