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Top Takeaways From The Cardinals' 2023 Offseason

Murray's rehab, Collins on the outside and question marks on defense 

Coach Jonathan Gannon oversees one of the Cardinals' offseason practices.
Coach Jonathan Gannon oversees one of the Cardinals' offseason practices.

The Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center was pretty quiet Friday. That's what happens when the coaches and the vast majority of the players have dispersed for the next five weeks or so. (Some are still around and/or rehabbing; Kyler Murray was again working on his knee Friday morning.)

With the first offseason of the Jonathan Gannon era in the rear view, there can be an attempt to glean at least some things from the time on and around the field. How much? That is always limited. For every Tyrann Mathieu or Steve Breaston that shines in the offseason and has it actually translate to the regular season, there have been more Stephen Williamses and Dan Arnolds and Brandon Williamses and Ryan Williamses (so many Williamses!) that haven't had it carry over.

With that as a reality, here are my top takeaways of the offseason.


I mean, it's a new coach and a new coaching staff. A new vibe around the team is inevitable, especially when the roster has as much turnover as it has. Gannon wants to set a new tone -- his tone -- and so far, it's been received well. Gannon's personality is 180 degrees from predecessor Kliff Kingsbury, and while that alone doesn't earn a team wins, it is a building block for the culture he and GM Monti Ossenfort want to install. There is youth on the staff, and the corresponding exuberance, and now we see how that filters through the team.


It didn't take long into the offseason when it became a where-there-is-smoke-there-is-fire situation with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and his future, and after a few months of speculation Hopkins was let go, an odd end to his tenure but probably a needed one. While Marquise Brown stands in line to try and grab the No. 1 receiver role, this is the first time since 2003 the Cardinals didn't have an obvious No. 1 (Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Hop.) There is opportunity, however. Judging by the receivers acquired, the Cardinals would like some size, so free agent Zach Pascal and Michael Wilson may have an early chance to show some things. It may leave Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch battling for the same snaps.


The reports about Kyler Murray's rehab have been ... not much. He's rehabbing and working hard. Beyond that, no one is saying. (It seems pretty clear that Murray will start training camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list; if so, the first crucial leverage point in his return will come at the end of the preseason, because if he stays on PUP to start the season he misses at least the first four games. If he comes off, there figures to be some optimism.) Who plays QB otherwise? Even with a handful of choices, it will be an upset if Colt McCoy isn't behind center. Maybe Clayton Tune does things in the preseason to change that narrative. But with the way offseason practices are run, there is no way to know yet what Tune might bring.


Hjalte Froholdt has been the center of attention, but there have been a handful of changes on the offensive line -- an area that has clearly been a place of priority for Ossenfort. First-round pick Paris Johnson Jr. could end up slotted as the right tackle, and with D.J. Humphries on the left side it looks as if Josh Jones and Kelvin Beachum could end up battling for the top backup role. Both have played guard too, though. It's the interior that still has so many questions; Will Hernandez is going to be a starter -- probably on the right side -- but the left guard isn't set, and is Froholdt indeed the center? He is if the Cardinals don't sign anyone, but that's far from certain.


Moving Zaven Collins from an inside linebacker to the outside was probably inevitable, given the kind of inside linebackers Nick Rallis apparently prefers. Collins has the size to be on the edge and, having spent two years around him, he's a smart guy. The question is whether he will suddenly be the top edge guy, even with inexperience? Rookie BJ Ojulari is dealing with some injury that kept him out of the offseason. Myjai Sanders and Cameron Thomas don't look like they will be ahead of Collins either (I could see Thomas playing on the line in sub-packages.) This league runs its defenses around pass rushing. Given that, Collins' move might be the most important storyline of camp.


When Gannon says everything is open to competition -- as many coaches do -- he may actually be right with a lot of it on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps only safety is settled. (That depends on Budda Baker -- more on that in a minute.) Other than free-agent signee Kyzir White at inside linebacker and safety Jalen Thompson, there can be a case made for different scenarios most everywhere else. Even Isaiah Simmons is working to master a spot.


With the Hopkins situation settled, Baker's issues are next up. The five-time Pro Bowler did not attend voluntary work, and he didn't participate in practice at mandatory minicamp. But he was around to attend meetings and support his teammates, and his desire for a better contract/trade apparently hasn't changed. Baker has two years left on his deal and it seems inevitable he is on the field when it matters. He is the current heart and soul of the Cardinals. The offseason was a bumpy one for that relationship.

Images of the Arizona Cardinals participating in mandatory minicamp at the Dignity Health Training Facility

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