What are the Arizona Cardinals going to do next? They hope to regain NFL relevance after a terrible 2022 season. Looking at where they are now, did they do a good enough job of rebuilding their roster during NFL Free Agency? What are the remaining gaps? Who are they still looking for as they prepare for the 2023 regular season? Here we’ll look at the 4 best NFL free agents still available to round out the roster of the Cardinals.
The Cardinals had a dismal 2022 season, finishing last in the NFC West with a record of 4-13. They have a new head coach, Jonathan Gannon, at the helm. However, starting quarterback Kyler Murray is likely to miss the start of the 2023 season due to injury recovery. As such, the team faces a tough start to the year. The Cardinals have several positional needs, including retaining or replacing key players in their quarterback room and addressing the offensive line and defensive line.
In addition, the team needs to add depth to their quarterback and running back rooms. The absence of Murray and James Conner towards the end of the previous season highlighted the importance of having a strong backup plan in these positions. To improve their overall performance, the Cardinals must address these positional needs during the offseason.
Let’s look at the best free agents still available to round out the roster of the Cardinals.
1. CB Rock Ya-Sin
Byron Murphy is a difficult player to replace. Right now, he has already signed with the Minnesota Vikings. Since the Cardinals are unable to re-sign him, it may take multiple signings to replace him.
Rock Ya-Sin is one cornerback Arizona should consider, though. This would be a fantastic signing for them. He’s the kind of boundary cornerback who might thrive in Nick Rallis’ scheme. In 2022, Ya-Sin allowed a 58.5 percent completion percentage and an 82.5 passer rating in coverage. These numbers demonstrate that he has improved with age.
2. QB Mason Rudolph
The Cardinals must address their need for more depth in their quarterback and running back positions. The previous season exposed their vulnerability in these positions when Kyler Murray and James Conner were absent. Therefore, the team needs to consider finding capable backups during the offseason.
First, let’s talk about QB. One potential option for the Cardinals is Mason Rudolph. He’s a 27-year-old quarterback who will be a free agent for the first time in his five-year NFL career. Despite not living up to his initial expectations as Ben Roethlisberger’s successor in Pittsburgh, Rudolph has proven to be a reliable backup quarterback. He intends to explore his options in free agency, but he is also open to the possibility of staying with the Steelers. The Cardinals may consider Rudolph as a viable backup option, especially with Murray missing the early weeks of the upcoming season.
3. RB Ezekiel Elliott
Next up is running back. Keep in mind that the Dallas Cowboys have released veteran running back Ezekiel Elliot. They have allowed him to explore options in free agency, which means he will be playing for a new team in 2023. This is a good move for Zeke, as the team has turned to Tony Pollard to be their lead back. That said, his last snap for Dallas will sadly be remembered for that ridiculous play.
Ezekiel Elliot’s last play as a Cowboy😂
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) March 15, 2023
Even though Elliott played in 15 games last season and carried the ball 231 times, he finished with only 876 yards. He took a step back in his effectiveness on the ground. However, Elliott did score 12 rushing touchdowns. That’s tied for the second-most in his career, giving him value despite being less efficient. Therefore, the Cardinals may be interested in signing him to deepen their backfield.
4. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
The third overall pick could be a viable option for the team to address their defensive line needs. They may consider targeting Jalen Carter or Will Anderson Jr. Alternatively, they could pursue Jadeveon Clowney, who is currently a free agent. Although the 29-year-old’s relationship with the Cleveland Browns deteriorated last season, he is still an elite pass-rusher. For sure, he could be an asset to the Cardinals’ defense.
Take note that Clowney’s market value may not be as high as it was during previous free agency periods due to his less-than-stellar performance last season. In fact, he only recorded two sacks. Despite this, his run defense remains strong. If the Cardinals do decide to sign him, he may have to prove his worth on the field before earning a significant contract. However, if he can regain his form from his productive first year with the Browns, where he racked up nine sacks, he could be a valuable addition to the Cardinals’ defensive line.