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New League Year Arrives For New GM Monti Ossenfort

Free agency about to begin as Cardinals overhaul on and off field

Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort (right) talks to coach Jonathan Gannon during last week's Scouting combine.
Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort (right) talks to coach Jonathan Gannon during last week's Scouting combine.

The new league year doesn't start until Wednesday, but by Monday, the league will open its "negotiating" period for teams to start officially talking to potential free agents.

The roster building will begin.

But while Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort sees the official transition, too much work has already been underway for him to see next week as anything other than a continuation of what the Cardinals have been doing for weeks now.

"There has been a lot of talking and this and that and the other, but this is where the ball actually gets moving," Ossenfort said Friday in his office. "But as far as our processes go, we're watching pro guys, college guys and evaluating non-stop, so on one hand yes it ramps up but on the other, our processes continue. Pro days going on, guys get cut as cap casualties, those things keep going."

For a first-year GM – and for a first-year coach in Jonathan Gannon – the offseason is more than just creating the new roster. The first offseason is about setting up the organization as needed, which goes beyond the players themselves.

Gannon talked about player health and bringing in a new director of player performance. And the Cardinals also understand player concerns brought forth in the recent NFLPA survey that brought national attention.

"I know it (the survey) focused on a number of football operations aspects," Ossenfort said. "The fact is, Michael had already targeted many of these areas for improvement based on his own observations as well as feedback received from players and others.

"Through the interview process with me and through the coaching (interview) process he made it clear this was a priority and part of the capital improvement plans for 2023. We have a great opportunity for change and adjustment. New ideas have come about and it's been a great process working with him and Jonathan and laying out a vision as we move forward. We have made some changes already, we have other ones coming down the chute and we have things we have to look at. The entirety of the football operation, it falls on all of us, and we are excited about the things we have going."

The players come to the forefront now, however. Time is running out to re-sign the team's own players before they can start talking with other teams. In particular, defensive lineman Zach Allen and cornerback Byron Murphy are players that will draw significant interest.

"We are working through that right now," Ossenfort said. "Certainly there are guys we would like back on the team. We've had discussions and we will continue to have discussions. We're in the middle of that and we will see where that ends up come Monday."

The Cardinals reportedly converted a roster bonus of tackle D.J. Humphries into a signing bonus on Monday, clearing about $5.3 million in cap space. With time left to make more moves, the Cardinals have around $32 million in cap space, although they will need a chunk of that to sign the draft class.

However it turns out, a new league year with a new GM and new coach is going to create a new look for the Cardinals, in their building, around the organization and especially on the roster.

"There are 31 other teams that are competing for players," Ossenfort said. "Some teams have a lot of money to spend and others not at much, but it all plays off each other."