By just about any measure the Arizona Cardinals have had a pretty good start to their offseason. Many national football writers have given them an A rating for adding left tackle Jared Veldheer and cornerback Antonio Cromartie among others. Still there is one question that hasn’t been brought up a whole lot that needs to be answered. Who will be the Cardinals starting right tackle?
As far as I can tell the Cardinals are considering three potential possibilities for a position that holds a lot of importance for the team. Coach Bruce Arians has already mentioned this offseason that the team plans to build around running back Andre Ellington and utilize his homerun play potential. The right tackle will play a major role in the running attack for the Cardinals. Let’s take a look at the three possible options.
Re-sign last years starter Eric Winston. The newly elected Players Association President was a solid starter for the Cardinals last season. The team signeed him late in August after the free agent market dried up. I believe the Cardinals figured that he would be a one year rental at the time, but Winston seems to have run into a similar market problem this offseason. Whether it is because his asking price has been too high or maybe the other teams see a flaw in his game that I didn’t last season, but whatever the case there has been very little activity for Winston. The Cardinals could wait him out and see if they can re-sign him to another bargain deal just like they did last season.
Move on and start Bobby Massie. For those of you who are not very familiar with Massie, he was a player that most considered a steal by the Cardinals in the 2012 draft. Most experts pegged him as a late first or second round pick, the Cardinals landed him in the fourth round. Massie was forced into a starting role in his rookie season and struggled mightily at first before getting his legs under him as the season progressed. I think most of us expected him to be the starter going into the 2013 season before the team signed Winston. Coach Arians allowed Massie to get the time to develop behind Winston and used him as a blocking tight end in certain situations last year before getting him some meaningful reps late in the season splitting time with Winston. Maybe that was a sign the Cardinals are ready to hand over the reigns to Massie full-time next season. He certainly has the talent to become a very good right tackle in the NFL.
The other option is that the Cardinals are waiting for this May’s draft before committing to anything. It is entirely possible that the team could draft a tackle that falls in the draft and presents too good of a value to pass up on. That is the benefit of not having a lot of holes on your roster heading into the draft, you can focus on the best player available and the best value on your board. I think the Cardinals will draft a tackle this year, the question is whether it will be a player that will be asked to provide depth or if it will be a player talented enough to step right in and start as a rookie.
Whatever the Cardinals end up doing at right tackle I think fans will be pleased with the result. The Cardinals seem to have finally put the pieces together to form a very good offensive line. Something the team has been sorely lacking over the past several seasons.