Anything that the Arizona Cardinals do in NFL free agency will likely be met with tempered enthusiasm given that their franchise quarterback Kyler Murray is currently recovering from a torn left ACL and meniscus that could keep him out for several games next season.

Still, the front office has to do everything in its power to ensure he is well situated upon his return. They have begun to do just that by agreeing to a two-year, $9 million contract with right guard Will Hernandez Tuesday night, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

The former New York Giants second-round draft pick started 13 games for the Cardinals last season and performed admirably in pass protection. Hernandez allowed just three sacks to Murray and will have to remain a key contributor on the offensive line if the team is going to rebound from a dismal 2022-23 campaign. He will be especially crucial during the Heisman Trophy Winner’s absence in the early, and possibly middle stretch of next season.

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There is still plenty of room for improvement, though, as the Arizona O-Line finished tied for the most penalties in the NFL last year. Hernandez had seven. They have some cap space to play around with so new general manager Monti Ossenfort could beef up the unit further if he so chooses.

This period of uncertainty will not end even when Murray steps onto the field. There will continue to be questions concerning his leadership and long-term health until the Cardinals can play high-quality, drama-free football over the course of an entire season. Postseason success is expected when a quarterback is awarded $160 million guaranteed.

New head coach Jonathan Gannon will be tasked with curing the football product and culture of this franchise. That complicated process is made just a bit easier when you have a reliable offensive lineman like Hernandez manning the wall.