The Arizona Cardinals struggled down the stretch without superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, but they still managed to finish with an 11-6 record and capture a wildcard spot in the NFC playoffs.
However, the Cardinals looked shellshocked in the wildcard game against the Los Angeles Rams, where they got blown out 34-11. Arizona has the third-best odds to win the NFC West (+350), according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Below we will take a look at what the Cardinals need to do in free agency this offseason.
Arizona Cardinals free agency preview
Positional needs: RB, TE, OL, CB, LB/EDGE, WR
Most of the Cardinals’ positional needs surround players that they need to re-sign this offseason. Both RBs James Conner and Chase Edmonds are free agents, along with WR Christian Kirk. Defensively, Arizona has to decide if they want to bring veteran Chandler Jones, who could command top dollar on the open market.
Players to target
Chandler Jones, EDGE
Since arriving in Arizona in 2016, Jones has been a sack machine, recording 71.5 sacks in 84 games. This past season, the 32-year-old was named to his fourth Pro Bowl after putting up 10.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 26 quarterback hits.
Despite his age, Jones’ calculated market value is a three-year, $43 million, according to Spotrac. The Cardinals are $813,000 over the salary cap, which means they need to make some cuts to open up space for Jones.
Connor Williams, OG
In the Cardinals’ playoff loss against the Rams, it was abundantly clear that their offensive line was overmatched. While the tackle spots leave much to be desired, Arizona could look to upgrade the left guard spot currently held by Justin Pugh. Pugh is scheduled to be a free agent in 2023, but the Cardinals could save $7 million by releasing him before June 1.
If they do that, then maybe Arizona goes after a younger option in Connor Williams, who is 24 years old. The former second-round pick had 14 penalties (career-high) this past season, but there’s still room for growth, and is someone that can help the Cardinals’ offensive line.
David Njoku, TE
With both Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams scheduled to be free agents, the Cardinals will be in the market for a new tight end. Njoku could give them that receiver at tight end that they’ve desperately needed for years. Ertz gave them a taste of being a weapon in the passing game, but Njoku is younger and can stretch the field.
This past season with the Cleveland Browns, he had 36 receptions (53 targets) for 475 yards and four touchdowns. Njoku is only 25 years old and showed in Cleveland, the ability to be a playmaker. If he were to play in Arizona with Kyler Murray, he could become a star inside their offense.