There is always something to play for.
Even though the Cardinals' playoff hopes were washed away in rainy Miami last Sunday, Bruce Arians and Steve Keim won't let their team quit. Arizona has one more game in front of its home crowd, and fans who have spent their hard-earned money to come to University of Phoenix Stadium deserve to see a good showing.
It could also be the final time they get to see several of their favorite players in a Cardinals' uniform. Management and coaches will be contemplating the 2017 roster as they play to win in 2016. The future Cardinals team is constantly being formed, and there are a number of free agents the Cardinals will have to make big decisions about. Always remember, it takes two to tango. The Cardinals want a lot of their free agents to return, but it also has to be at the right price.
Here are a few names to watch, along with some of my thoughts. Again, these are my thoughts, not
necessarily those of the personnel department or coaching staff.
His numbers have dipped the last few games, but Jones is still an elite pass rusher in his prime. Given what Arizona gave up to acquire Jones, I believe the Cardinals will make sure he is here in 2017.
He's had an excellent season, and has made himself a valuable NFL player after going undrafted out of Oklahoma. I would be surprised if he's not back, but it depends on what type of interest he draws from other teams.
This one will be interesting. Campbell is having a great year, but he's not getting younger, and another team will likely offer him huge money. I wouldn't be surprised if this is his last home game as a Cardinal.
He's had a very good second half of the season, and has been by far the Cardinals' most reliable tight end. I think there's a good chance Gresham returns.
He's improved a lot since he entered the league, but will never be a guy who generates big-time production. I think the Cardinals need to look at upgrading their inside linebackers. If they can get a dynamic player either through the draft or free agency, that puts Minter's status up in the air.
There are many other potential unrestricted and restricted free agents I didn't list. There is also uncertainty surrounding the future of older players, like Larry Fitzgerald, and perhaps even Carson Palmer. The bottom line is the roster is always in flux -- perhaps even more so when you near the end of a relatively unsuccessful season. Fans attending the final home game of 2016 should enjoy what could be the last for several of their favorite players.