The Arizona defensive line has two big men with two big contracts and that leads to two big problems when it comes to the salary cap. Let’s take a look at the numbers from Spotrac.com about this position.
Dan Williams $2.185 million
Calais Campbell $11.25 million
Darnell Dockett $8.75 million
FA: Frostee Rucker, Everette Thompson, Alameda Ta’Amu (exclusive rights), Ronald Talley
On the line, Arizona has a pair of players making a combined $20 million next season. There is also little depth under contract behind the front three starters. Ta’Amu tore his ACL in the final game of the season so his outlook for next year is questionable. The other three guys rotated in when the big dogs needed a break but were otherwise given minimal playing time.
Ideally, Campbell and/or Dockett could restructure their deals to free up cap space. It becomes more difficult to convince them to do so when the Cardinals had the best run defense in the league last season. Campbell set a career-high with nine sacks this past season and a total of 14 tackles for loss. Dockett had 4.5 sacks of his own so he was productive as well.
Either way, Arizona needs to have additional players behind the starters. The need for depth will try to snag some bucks out of the free agency wallet which is rather depleted.
When you include this position, you see the biggest salaries on the team. They’re all in a Mexican Standoff with each other and it’s a question of who will blink first. Will it be Campbell, Dockett, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald or Steve Keim who blinks first? This picture of a Mexican Standoff sums up how negotiations might be going.
Ideally, all three of those players should be kept. Williams is a pretty good plugger up the middle against the run and Arizona shouldn’t look to break up the defensive front. They need depth and it doesn’t come cheap.
Next time, we’ll take a look at the tricky linebacker position. Arizona could be Dansby if they do and Dansby if they don’t.
Check out the entire salary table here.