The Arizona Cardinals have moved fast in the first week of free agency, but the first league-wide shockwaves emanating out of general manager Steve Keim’s offices might not be the last.
Transition-tagging running back Kenyan Drake and trading for receiver DeAndre Hopkins signaled the Cardinals are all-in on challenging for the postseason in 2020. The urgency displayed by spending on starting-caliber defensive tackle Jordan Phillips as well as linebackers Devon Kennard and De’Vondre Campbell expressed that as well.
But when ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler asked anonymous executives around the NFL about Arizona, one suggested there might be more monumental offseason plans yet to be checked off Keim’s list.
One league exec says he wouldn’t be surprised if Keim added even more firepower for Kyler Murray behind a steady three-man receiving core and tailback Kenyan Drake. Perhaps more tight end depth is on the way.
The ammunition: Murray’s modest $8.08 million cap hit in the second year of his rookie deal. That number ranks 24th among quarterbacks in 2020.
“They have a window with a talented quarterback on a rookie contract and are all-in right now,” the exec said. “As they should be.”
It’s unlikely the Cardinals can do more in free agency without any roster shakeups.
You could look at cornerback Patrick Peterson’s expiring base salary that will pay out $12 million in 2020 as a trade chip — just because we do these things with expiring deals — but he has maintained he wants to retire a Cardinal.
As of now, Arizona has just under a projected amount of $11 million in cap space, according to Spotrac.com, and most of that will be used on paying draft picks or saved for in-season moves.
Realistically, what would doubling down on the offense look like moving forward?
It’s hard to project what Arizona could do in a trade market to acquire a high-profile tight end or another veteran receiver to join Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
Is there a way to build along the offensive line? Washington tackle Trent Williams wants out, but whether he’s traded or released, he will command a lot of money.
The draft might be where we see how aggressive Keim gets regarding such things. It will present trade opportunities as players fall and teams grasp at landing someone they really like.
Even if the Cardinals stick with their No.8 overall pick, there are safe moves versus all-in moves.
A safe move would be drafting a starting right tackle who will push Justin Murray, a 12-game starter from a year ago, to the bench. That would certainly make the pocket cozy for Kyler Murray.
An aggressive move would be taking the best wide receiver on the board to give Murray another weapon.