The Cardinals may be using fewer defensive linemen as they switch back to a 3-4 scheme, but they still needed to add at the position and did so with a potentially underrated move Thursday.
The team signed young free-agent defensive lineman Darius Philon to a two-year deal with a reported $4 million signing bonus and a $1 million salary for 2019. Philon, who became a full-time starter for the first time in his four NFL seasons in 2018, had 4 sacks for the Los Angeles Chargers playing defensive tackle.
“I got a call from my agent telling me, ‘Arizona wants to bring you aboard,’ and I’m happy to be aboard,” Philon said. “I want everybody to know that. This is where I’m going to be and this is what we’re going to work on, making the Cardinals better.”
Tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, who had been extended a tender offer as an exclusive rights free agent, also signed his contract.
At 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, Philon can play all along the three position on the defensive line. He praised what defensive coordinator Vance Joseph can do for a defense, and said it was Joseph – who saw Philon twice a year when Joseph was coaching in Denver – who saw Philon as a fit.
“My style of play, I’m more of a penetrating defensive tackle,” Philon said. “Basically be a wrecking crew.”
A sixth-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, Philon has 9½ sacks in his career over 54 games, adding 80 total tackles and two forced fumbles.
The Cardinals only had five defensive linemen on the roster prior to the Philon signing – starter Corey Peters, Robert Nkemdiche (who is coming off an ACL tear and whose status is unknown), Cameron Malveaux, Pasoni Tasini and Vincent Valentine.
The draft also has an abundance of quality defensive linemen available in April.