North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is projected to go high, but a team could trade up for him if he drops.
Free agency-obsessed Cardinals fans didn't receive much of a payoff last month. While the team made a few moves, none reached the stop-everything-and-text-a-friend level of excitement.
But could that inaction result in some wheeling and dealing in this week's draft?
The Cardinals' decision to let several prominent free agents walk while mostly avoiding the open market is expected to bring them four compensatory draft choices in 2018. While the exact rounds aren't yet known – the current projection is one third, one fourth and two sixth-round picks – General Manager Steve Keim will have plenty of draft capital in 2018.
He also has a fifth-round compensatory selection this year, and all those extra picks give Keim great flexibility to make a draft-day trade, should he decide to do one.
"It is more enticing," Keim said. "It gives you the ability to move around."
The Cardinals are slated to pick 13th in the first round of the draft on Thursday. The biggest focus of the past few months has been on the team's long-term plan at quarterback. Keim and Bruce Arians have been open about their desire to find the heir to Carson Palmer, but know it must be the right guy.
There are some teams ahead of the Cardinals who would also love a dynamic young quarterback, including the Saints, who pick at No. 11, and the Browns, whose second pick of the first round sits at No. 12. If the Cardinals see a potential franchise guy but worry that others are also interested, they may have to consider trading up.
Additionally, if they love a player at a different position who was expected to go high but falls a few spots, they could make a move. And even with so many picks coming in 2018, moving back and stockpiling more is always an option. It all depends on the availability of specific prospects during pressure points of the draft.
"It's one of those things that if you are moving up, you better have a player that you fell in love with and the compensation is worth it," Keim said. "And if you are moving back, you better not be leaving a dynamic player on the board."
In the next couple of days, Keim will begin to get feeler calls from other organizations, as everyone tries to find potential trading partners. The unpredictable nature of the draft allows for only cursory discussions this early, with the bulk of the proposals coming when teams are on the clock.
Keim, Arians and the rest of the personnel department have a trade chart which details the type of compensation they would feel comfortable dealing away if they want to move up, and what they would need in return to move down.
They also simulate the draft multiple times in order to debate different scenarios, because it's hectic making a potentially franchise-altering decision while on the clock.
"It is fast-paced," Keim said. "You have to make a decision instantly and again, that is why it is so important to have that board stacked the way it is because if you trust it then you won't veer away from what you believe in."
Keim has more commonly chosen to move down during his four drafts as general manager, most memorably in 2014 when he gave up the No. 20 overall selection (Brandin Cooks) to New Orleans for No. 27 overall (Deone Bucannon) and a third-round pick (John Brown).
Even with all the compensatory selections waiting for him, Keim remains open-minded about any draft movement.
"We are not going to force it," Keim said. "We are going to take the best player available at 13, or at nine if we trade up, or 18 if we trade back. We are going to have a good player available, I know that. Coach and I have looked at enough guys and we have talked through a bunch of different scenarios. And if we stick at 13, there are 13 guys that we like that we know can make us better. We are going to be happy either way. Again, when you get into a situation where you panic and force the pick, it will set us back from an organizational standpoint four or five years."
Images of players projected to get drafted this month