The Arizona Cardinals roster is in fairly good health, but there are a few potential areas needed to shore up for 2015. One of those areas is along the defensive line where several marquee free agents are set to become available.
Clearly, Arizona is going to need some help along the defensive line. Gone is Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams is on his way to test free agency. Williams is widely considered a top-five available player at the position, so it appears that GM Steve Keim in company might have a plan in place to fill that potential loss.
That plan, however, is still unknown.
Of the available options, Ndamukong Suh is the headliner of the group and would be one of the few upgrades over Williams. Suh is a dynamic playmaker but also has a knack for making mistakes that result in penalties and fines. Suh would certainly bring an attitude with him to Arizona, but is it really an attitude that the team wants right now? The competition for Suh will also be extremely stiff.
Another free-agent candidate from the Detroit Lions is Nick Fairley. Fairley wasn’t nearly has disruptive as Suh but he’s still a high-impact player who could step in and fill the void left by Williams. Not only is Fairley lesser of a talent than Suh, he also comes with injury concerns. He’s been plagued by them throughout his young career but that could allow the Cardinals to obtain him at a discounted rate.
Of course, there’s still a chance that Williams tests the waters elsewhere and comes back to Arizona, but given the fact that he’s an excellent fit in a 3-4 defensive scheme someone will likely pay a premium for his services. The Washington Redskins, along with a host of other squads, are rumored to be very interested in signing Williams to a lucrative contract.
Of the other options that will be available, Jared Odrick (Miami Dolphins), Terrance Knighton (Denver Broncos) and Stephen Paea (Chicago Bears) appear to be the best of the rest. Replacing Williams with any of those three would be acceptable but could Keim and company get them at a better rate the Williams? That may be a hard proposition with so many teams also looking for help in the trenches.
The wild card in this scenario is the Cardinals’ additional need for help in the pass-rushing department.
Suh and Fairly are two of the better pass-rushing defensive linemen available and would satisfy both of Arizona’s needs, but if they can obtain a solid edge pass-rusher they may be able to put less of a focus on shoring up the interior defensive line.
Regardless of how it all plays out, Cardinal fans can have confidence that Keim and coach Bruce Arians will make the make the right choices and bring in the ideal combination of players. The duo has done a nearly flawless job of updating the roster in recent years and will look to continue that trend in 2015.
Cardinals to target help in the trenches
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