The Cardinals are embarking on a new era under Steve Wilks. In the ensuing months, they will identify their new starting quarterback and fill other positions of need. The first crack at re-shaping the roster will come in free agency, which begins on March 14. We’ll break down each position as it draws near.
*Free agent primer: *Special Teams
*Cap hit of players under contract for 2018 (via OverTheCap.com): *K Phil Dawson ($3.5 million); P Andy Lee ($2.4 million)
Scheduled free agents: LS Aaron Brewer
Images of some of the notable specialists scheduled to hit the open market
Analysis: The Cardinals inked veterans Dawson and Lee to multi-year deals last season. Dawson hit 32-of-40 field goals and 23-of-26 extra points in his first year with the team in 2017. He began the year slowly but found a groove down the stretch, nailing 20-of-22 field goals in the second half of the season.
Lee also improved as the season moved along and finished seventh in the NFL with an average of 47.3 yards per punt. His net punting average was 39.7 yards and Lee had 26 punts downed inside the 20. Dawson and Lee were more expensive than the specialists the Cardinals paid in previous years, but by the end of the season each was kicking at a high level.
Brewer is the lone scheduled free agent in the bunch. He missed eight games in 2017 after breaking his arm while covering a punt, but returned toward the end of the year. The snapping process seemed to go more smoothly when he was on the field. The Cardinals have a new special teams coach in Jeff Rodgers, and he should have a large say in what the unit looks like in 2018.
Notable past free agent special teams signings: Dawson (2017); Lee (2017); Brewer (2016); K Chandler Catanzaro (2014); P Drew Butler (2014); P Dave Zastudil (2011); K Jay Feely (2010); K Mike Nugent (2009); LS Mike Leach (2009); P Ben Graham (2008); P Dirk Johnson (2008); K Neil Rackers (2003); LS Nathan Hodel (2001); K Cary Blanchard (2000); K Chris Jacke (1998); P Scott Player (1998); K Joe Nedney (1997); LS Trey Junkin (1996); P Jeff Feagles (1994).