Skip to main content

Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Free Agent Primer 2024: Outside Linebacker

Pass-rush struggled in second half of the season, but depth is a positive for OLB room


After finishing his first season as a head coach with a 4-13 record, Jonathan Gannon said that while he was pleased with the teams’ fight, it simply wasn’t good enough. Now that those in the locker room and throughout the league have an idea how a Gannon-Monti Ossenfort regime operates, they'll look to build a playoff contender through free agency and the draft. The new league year begins on March 13, and with that comes free agency. Here's the final position breakdown.

Free Agent primer schedule: OLB March 8

Other free agent primers: DL, OL, QB, ILB, ST, WR, CB, RB, S, TE

Cap hit of players under contract for 2024 (via Zaven Collins ($4,674,172), Dennis Gardeck ($3,766,668), BJ Ojulari ($1,954,003), Cameron Thomas ($1,403,002), Victor Dimukeje ($1,095,465), Jesse Luketa ($985,000), Tyreke Smith ($915,000)

Need: High

Analysis: In the first game of the 2023 campaign against the Commanders, Dennis Gardeck forced a fumble that fellow outside linebacker Cameron Thomas scooped up and leaped into the end zone for a touchdown. At that moment, it looked like the Cardinals would have a surprisingly good pass rush. It didn't turn out that way.

The Cardinals finished near the bottom of the league with 33 sacks. For a defense that prided itself on playing with a high motor and violence, opposing offenses didn't fear the rush. The room doesn't lack depth. That's a positive. Youth and inexperience is the biggest obstacle the unit faces. Thomas, Victor Dimukeje, Jesse Luketa, Tyreke Smith and BJ Ojulari have all played less than two seasons. While Ojulari was the lone rookie in the room, outside linebackers coach Rob Rodriguez compared Zaven Collins to a rookie since he spent the 2023 season adjusting to the new position.

The Cardinals have some pieces already on the roster, but with a handful of free agents on the market, it's an opportunity to be cautiously active and find pieces able to make an impact.

Notable past free agent outside linebacker signings: Devon Kennard (2020); Terrell Suggs (2019); Dwight Freeney (2015); John Abraham (2013); Joey Porter (2010); Clark Haggans (2008); Travis LaBoy (2008);

A look at some of the top edge rushers across the NFL who are scheduled to become free agents in mid-March