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: *Wide Receiver
*Cap hit of players under contract for 2018 (via OverTheCap.com): *Larry Fitzgerald ($15.85 million); J.J. Nelson ($1.96 million); Chad Williams ($758,072); Rashad Ross ($630,000); Carlton Agudosi ($555,000)
Scheduled free agents: John Brown; Jaron Brown; Brittan Golden
Images of notable receivers scheduled to hit free agency
Analysis: The Cardinals’ receiver corps was up and down in 2017, and two of its main contributors – John Brown and Jaron Brown – are scheduled to hit the open market. John Brown was a difference-maker in his first two years with the team but his production dipped in 2016 and 2017 after he was diagnosed with the sickle cell trait and suffered various injuries. Jaron Brown accumulated a career-high 477 receiving yards in 2017 and is a standout special teams player.
If neither returns, the Cardinals could be in the market for a pass-catcher. Brittan Golden, whose value has been derived mostly on special teams, is a free agent as well.
While Larry Fitzgerald will return as the clear-cut No. 1 receiving option, his career is a year-to-year proposition at this point, so a longer-term fit next to him could make sense. Nelson will be back on the final year of his rookie contract as a big-play deep threat. Chad Williams didn’t contribute much as a rookie, but the former third-round pick is hoping to carve out a substantial role in 2018. Rashad Ross and Carlton Agudosi are expected to compete for a roster spot.
The Cardinals haven’t dipped into free agency at wide receiver very often in the past but could look for reinforcements if they lose their three impending free agents.
Some of the most notable free agent names at wide receiver include Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Terrelle Pryor and Danny Amendola. Jarvis Landry is technically scheduled for free agency but he was franchise tagged by the Dolphins. The draft is another option if General Manager Steve Keim does not feel he can get the requisite value needed to sign a wide receiver on the open market.
Notable past free agent wide receiver signings: Ted Ginn (2014); Sean Morey (2007)