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Cardinals Sorting Through Right Tackle Options

Josh Jones may not be front-runner to start at tackle in 2021

Veteran Kelvin Beachum started all 16 games at right tackle for the Cardinals last season, but is an impending free agent.
Veteran Kelvin Beachum started all 16 games at right tackle for the Cardinals last season, but is an impending free agent.

The Cardinals have some decisions to make on the offensive line this offseason.

Position coach Sean Kugler has already said there will be an open competition for the starting center job, and right tackle is equally murky.

Josh Jones was drafted in the third round last season as a long-term possibility at that position, but it seems unlikely he will be automatically handed the starting job in 2021. Both Kugler and GM Steve Keim have touted Jones' versatility over the past couple of weeks, which could foreshadow a move to guard.

"Josh has the ability, in my opinion – and I know Sean Kugler, our O-Line coach is high on him just from what he has seen this year – to be able to play not only guard or tackle," Keim said. "We have some positional flexibility there. He has grown a lot over this past season. He's gotten bigger, stronger, which he needed to do. I think he has a really bright future."

The Cardinals signed veteran Kelvin Beachum late last offseason and he proved to be a terrific addition, starting every game at right tackle. Beachum is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 17, but could be an option to retain that job.

The Cardinals traded for veteran Marcus Gilbert in 2019 but he tore his ACL before the season and then opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19. His contract tolled, so the Cardinals have his rights for 2021, but his future with the team is unclear.

"I have not heard on Marcus' status," coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

The Cardinals' offensive line graded out well in blocking metrics in 2020, according to ESPN, although the running game lost effectiveness as the season went on. It seems like there are several different options on the table as free agency and the draft near.

"That's a position, just like all the positions, we're going to look at," Kingsbury said. "But I thought that group over the past two years has made big strides and we're going to continue to try and make sure that we're moving that in the right direction."