The depth of the defensive line could make a trade possible for the Cardinals prior to final cutdowns.
The fact General Manager Steve Keim said this week trades are possible as the Cardinals go through the summer and get into training camp isn't a shock given the depth the team has in a couple of spots.
Keim emphasized the reason the Cardinals would go in that direction is because the Cards have built a roster with more than 53 men worthy of keeping – meaning quality players will likely be released by the time the team reaches the end of the preseason. So when Keim talks trade in this regard, the most likely result is players for draft picks, because player for player just leaves the Cardinals needing to cut the same amount of guys. Those draft picks, in that situation, are later in drafts usually – fifth-, sixth- or seventh-rounders – that just helps stockpile ammunition for the 2016 draft.
Player-for-player isn't out of the question. One of Keim's first trades was dealing fullback Anthony Sherman, who wasn't needed in Bruce Arians' scheme, to Kansas City for cornerback Javier Arenas. Arenas played a role for the Cardinals in 2013. But again, the idea is to avoid cutting a player you know will be scooped up as soon as he hits the waiver wire.
Not every position is ripe with trade candidates. The Cardinals would probably want to add a tight end, for instance, rather
than look at their group and see a potential deal. But there are places that lend themselves to Keim's thought process:
DEFENSIVE LINE: Yes, the Cardinals released Darnell Dockett and lost Dan Williams to free agency. But Keim went into overdrive to add potential and versatility to what should be a solid rotation. So much so that the numbers have grown, to the point where Arians noted how interesting it will be in camp to see exactly how many defensive linemen (and outside linebackers in the team's 3-4 scheme) the Cards keep.
The Cards are deep enough at the spot that when everyone was around and Arians used two practice fields in OTAs, guys like Ed Stinson and Matt Shaughnessy – both of whom were part of the rotation last season when healthy -- were working on the second field because the roster numbers were so great.
The list is long: Corey Peters, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Cory Redding, Alameda Ta'amu, Josh Mauro, rookies Xavier Williams and Rodney Gunter, Stinson and Shaughnessy. That doesn't even include outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley (who split individual position time with the linebackers and defensive line during OTAs and minicamp) and
Kareem Martin. As a 3-4 team, the Cards have kept as few as six defensive linemen in the past. It'll likely be more than that this season, but it's not enough room for all of them.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: The Cardinals need defensive backs – you can never have enough cornerbacks – and the versatility they have in the secondary makes some of this easier. At safety, they have four guys who could start in Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon. But Mathieu can play slot and Bucannon can be a linebacker in the nickel and there are times when the Cards would use all four at once. Still, there could be a potential move.
Same at cornerback, where starters Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers are joined by Justin Bethel and Alfonzo Dennard, and the team likes practice squader Jimmy Legree too. It is not far-fetched to see nine defensive backs on the roster, so maybe all stay put. But you never know.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Believe it or not, yes, this is a position that could potentially generate a deal. After finally building up the roster at this spot in particular, the Cardinals certainly don't want to indiscriminately throw away depth. But if D.J. Humphries progresses as hoped and undrafted rookie tackle Rob Crisp comes along, would Bobby Massie be a candidate? Given that the Cards have only seven dressed on game days, would Earl Watford or whoever doesn't win the starting center job between Ted Larsen and A.Q. Shipley be a possible candidate?
Again, this is conjecture, and much must be determined in training camp first. An injury or two changes the whole equation. But if Keim is openly considering the potential for trades, there is a reason.
Images of the Cardinals during offseason work over the past decade-plus