At 10-6, the Arizona Cardinals were easily the best team that did not make the playoffs this season.
Under the guidance of offensive guru Bruce Arians, quarterback Carson Palmer showed flashes of his past MVP form, passing for a career-high 4,274 yards with 24 touchdowns. He was helped by the emergence of wide receiver Michael Floyd (1,041), who thrived playing alongside Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals weren’t just about offense, though. They were ranked sixth in total defense and allowed the league’s fewest rushing yards.
Had the Cardinals not been in the NFC West, they probably would have made the playoffs. As it stands, they fell short of their season goal and now face a myriad of questions to address this offseason.
As part of our Behind Enemy Lines division rivals edition, we’ve brought in cover32 Cardinals’ Andrew Nordmeier to answer some of those questions.
What’s the single biggest question surrounding Arizona at this very moment?
Andrew Nordmeier: How will the Cardinals address all of the free agents to be in this offseason?
They have 16 of them which is a large number and they are at key positions like Karlos Dansby at linebacker and Andre Roberts at the wide receiver spot. It will be interesting to see who stays and who goes. Then there’s the issue of trying to renegotiate a deal with Patrick Peterson and our next answer is important too.
What’s the No. 1 issue the Cardinals must address in the offseason?
Andrew Nordmeier: Will Larry Fitzgerald be traded in this offseason? Rumors came up around the deadline that he might be traded but with a monster $18 million cap hit he needs to restructure his deal or he could be shipped away.
Who’s a player to watch next season who’s under the radar?
Andrew Nordmeier: Ryan Williams has flown so low under the radar he’s barely off the ground. Williams got through this season healthy for the first time in his three NFL seasons. That was rather easy to do since he was a healthy scratch for all 17 games this season. Perhaps with a shake-up at running back, Williams might be able to suit up and contribute. If he’s still on the roster.
Who’s a player who most certainly won’t be in a Cardinal uniform next year?
Andrew Nordmeier: Jay Feely looks to be the most likely one to no longer be a Cardinal. Key missed field goals for the Cardinals really cost the team and at age 37, he can be replaced with another kicker. Others who are likely to be gone include Rashard Mendenhall (because of the rise of Andre Ellington) and Daryl Washington ($10 million roster bonus and potential discipline from the league for an off-field domestic violence incident last May).