This offseason has been an eventful one for the Arizona Cardinals, who’ve seen a division-wide run on talent rivaling the Cold War arms race. The Rams and the 49ers have been reinforcing on both sides of the ball, trying to add support for the young men that they believe will be their franchise quarterbacks for the foreseeable future. While they’ve been active in this NFC West arms race themselves, the Cardinals are a team yet to establish what will be their identity for the 2018 season. A large part of that is the turnover seen in the Arizona Cardinals position groups.
Though maybe not the most improved, by far the most effort has gone into replacing their long-time veteran quarterback with an infusion of young blood. All three quarterbacks currently in camp for the Cardinals were playing in different colors at this time last year. From the looks of things, it seems that the Cardinals will be pinning their hopes on Sam Bradford, who had high hopes early on in his career and showed flashes of greatness until he was bitten by the injury bug and hasn’t really been able to stay healthy long enough to recapture the optimism that he inspired two teams ago.
The quarterback situation is difficult to discuss further because it’s nigh on impossible to speculate on the Cardinals’ upcoming season without commenting on it but there are still too many unknowns about the pool of Bradford, Mike Glennon and first-round prospect Josh Rosen to classify the quarterback position as most or least improved. Suffice to say, the most attention has been paid to the quarterback position but whether it has been much ado about nothing remains to be seen.
Most Improved: Wide Receiver
With a swirling cloud of uncertainty lining up behind center, the Arizona Cardinals invested in a promising rookie wideout. Larry Fitzgerald defied all expectations last season by upholding his exceptional reputation despite his advanced age and will undoubtedly be the unequivocal number one on almost every route in the Cardinals’ playbook. However, aside from his almost superhuman reliability, the team is likely to call his number again when it comes to mentoring promising young speedster and former Aggie Christian Kirk.
In spite of parting ways with John and Jaron Brown this offseason, the Cardinals also retained JJ Nelson who seems poised to turn a proverbial corner in his career and possibly even eclipse Fitzgerald as the Cardinals’ premiere pass-catching option.
All-in-all, the Cardinals managed to keep some vital pieces of their offense in their wide receiver corps, while also injecting youth at the position. They still have the veteran face of their organization getting it done. While quarterback may still be up in the air, the Cardinals undoubtedly have the wide receiver position locked down.
Least Improved: Safety
The argument could be made that the Cardinals have the most talented shutdown corner in football in Patrick Peterson and therefore don’t need a strong safety corps. With division rivals acquiring Aqib Talib and Richard Sherman, Peterson’s talents alone leave the Cardinals with the premier secondary in the West.
The Cardinals retained Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker but Bethea is no spring chicken, which is an old expression for someone who is old. If injury strikes Rudy Ford seems to be the next and last option for pure safeties. Yes, teams will often use corners to play safety in a pinch but with so many variables on the other side of the ball, the last thing that the Cardinals want to be doing is playing a shell game with their secondary.
Tyrann Mathieu left town for Houston and there doesn’t really seem to be a plan in place for how to compensate for the loss of him. Unless they get busy with the signings, the Cardinals may have some tough times ahead on deep routes.