It figures to be an interesting season for the Arizona Cardinals. What if quarterback Kyler Murray stays healthy and forms an immediate star-level bond with new wideout Marvin Harrison Jr., and the Cardinals score a ton of points? Ah, the fun. But while dreams are still allowed, the Cardinals have three trade candidates as the 2024 training camp rolls around.

Included in the trade chatter is running back Michael Carter. At one point in his rookie season with the New York Jets, Carter looked like he might be a thing in the NFL. But happiness didn’t reign in the Big Apple, and Carter found himself in the desert. And he could be on the move again.

Other potential trade candidates are linebacker Zaven Collins and receiver Chris Moore.

RB Michael Carter fighting for spot with Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals running back Michael Carter (22) runs with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Jets drafted Breece Hall in 2022, it didn’t do wonders for Carter’s career. Looking back, the Jets made the right move to grab Hall — if he can stay healthy.

Carter wound up on the outs. The Jets turned him loose and the Cardinals scooped him up. In Arizona, Carter had 22 carries for 149 yards and didn’t reach the end zone in 2023. He also caught only nine passes for 33 yards, though he did score his first career receiving touchdown.

When the Cardinals picked Trey Benson in the third round (No. 66 overall), it put Carter in a tough spot. Benson’s size (6-foot, 216 pounds) gives him a strength edge over Carter, who is 5-8 and 201 pounds. Benson can also move, evidenced by his 4.39 time in the 40 during the NFL Combine. That was the third-fastest time among running backs.

That dropped Carter to third-team status, and maybe fourth-teamer Emari Demercado could give him a push as well. Carter probably makes the squad, but maybe the Cardinals could package him in a deal to get defensive help. Arizona had the lowest-graded defense in the NFL last year.

LB Zaven Collins might not be part of long-term plans

When the Cardianls decided not to pick up the fifth-year option for linebacker Zaven Collins, it made him eligible for free agency after this season. And it seemed to send a clear signal the team could look a different direction after Collins struggled to produce on the edge in 2023.

Collins racked up 100 tackles in 2022 as an inside linebacker, but dropped to 41 with just 3.5 sacks on the outside. Because Collins would have made $13.2 next season with an extension, Cards opted to keep him around for only this year. Unless, that is, they find a trade partner.

Collins took matters in stride, telling he understood the business side of things.

“I went to (general manager) Monti (Ossenfort) and said, ‘Just tell me straight up,” Collins said. “It’s like a band-aid, just rip it off. He brought me in, he was like, ‘Hey, Z, we’re not going to pick up your fifth-year option.’ I was like, ‘Thank you. I respect that.”

Collins said he doesn’t like the way some players handle contract talks.

““Sometimes I’ve seen where it’s drawn out and guys aren’t coming in the building for this,” he said. “I don’t do that. That’s not what I’m about. I just want to be here with the team. That’s it. Even when they told me, I was there the next day, the day after. I’ve been here ever since. Is it disappointing? Yes, of course, because you always want the best option for yourself. But it’s a part of the NFL business.”

Collins is an NFL starter, so Arizona could draw serious interest for him. Yes, the Cardinals’ defense ranked at the bottom of the barrel in 2023, but other teams might be able to put Collins back at inside linebacker where he could thrive.

WR Chris Moore might be on the move

There are enough weapons in the wide receiver room for Moore to get lost in the shuffle. The seven-year veteran has been good enough to stick around NFL rosters for multiple seasons, but hasn’t been able to find a niche.

However, his best year came recently. In 2022 with the Houston Texans, Moore caught 48 balls for 548 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He trailed off with Tennessee last year, but an inconsistent offense didn’t help him.

Moore’s trade value is minimal, but his proven dependability as a backup might move the needle enough for him to be an add-on in a trade that brings help to the defensive side of the football for the Cardinals.

Offensively, the Cardinals have the goods to be contenders. But the defensive unit may drag them back to the pack and beyond. Taking care of roster business before the season starts is critical on the defensive side of the ball.