The NFL free agent frenzy is only a week away and with the salary cap number coming in at $7 million higher than projected, the signing season should be hot and heavy this year. So who should the Cardinals target to fill some of their free agent needs?
This week we will take a deeper look at the teams’ needs at the linebacker position. The Cardinals defense was a strength last season and the linebackers played a big role. The unit, led by returning veteran Karlos Dansby, were solid in pretty much all aspects of the game. Well, except maybe covering those pesky tight ends.
The Cardinals’ needs at the position will change quickly depending on what happens with Dansby. Dansby is a free agent himself and is expected to have some suitors. The Cardinals have reportedly offered him a deal, but nothing has been signed. If Dansby does re-sign, the team will be solid in the middle of the formation with Dansby, Daryl Washington, and last year’s second-round pick Kevin Minter as the main contributors.
On the outside, the Cardinals could definitely look to get younger and more dynamic. John Abraham had a surprisingly good year once he got consistent snaps last season, but he is on the last year of a deal that could possibly see him retire after the season. Sam Acho has been solid and the team drafted Alex Okafor out of Texas two seasons ago, but the team could definitely look to improve in this area. In my first Cardinals mock draft I had the team selecting UCLA’s Anthony Barr to add some athleticism to their pass rush, so it is obviously a need.
In free agency there are a couple of intriguing options that could help add depth to the Cardinals’ linebacking corp. There isn’t anybody the Cardinals would look to break the bank on, which is probably good because they have greater needs elsewhere. On the outside, the Cardinals could take a look at a veteran pass rusher like Shaun Phillips or former Cardinal O’Brien Schofield. On the inside, Players like Brandon Spikes or Daryl Smith could be targeted, especially if they aren’t able to re-sign Dansby.
Whatever happens in free agency, the Cardinals’ linebackers will likely continue to be a strong presence on one of the league’s best defenses.