With the 2020 draft starting tomorrow in the ether, the Arizona Cardinals free agency approach has some pressure building on them. After a rockstar like impact on the roster with the trade of David Johnson of DeAndre Hopkins, things have fallen a little south of exciting.
With the signings of Jordan Phillips, Rodney Gunter, Zach Kerr, and Devon Kennard the only multi-year free agents, improvements have been hard to come by. With the majority of the players signed being defensive, it’s clear the Cardinals are looking to strengthen a unit that finished 28th in the league in 2019.
But trying to do it with this group of players, for this amount of money seems somewhat risky. With Jordan Phillips 3-year $30 million deal the longest contract given out, if any of these players hit the way the front office hopes their salary will jump massively in 2021.
Cardinals free agency is a mess
Take De’Vondre Campbell for example. Heading into the 2016 draft Bleacher Report had this to say “An effective and involved tackler, Campbell sticks with the play and pops off the film as a clean-up tackler. He’s aggressive and physical at the point of attack and has no problem hunting for the ball in the middle of the field.”
With 363 tackles in four seasons, 2019 was a standout year for Campbell who popped for 129 solo tackles. So if he repeats that, or improves further what do you think happens to his $6 million salary?
While Jordan Phillips, a player with 15 career sacks in 6 seasons, gets $30 million over 3 with $18.5 guaranteed? We can’t even figure out how to use Hassan Reddick to get the best out of him and we’re handing out one-year deals so players can prove themselves and then cash those dollars in with another team?
The reality is most of the Cardinals free agency signings in 2020 have been filler players, roster depth that every team needs. Zach Kerr 8 sacks in 6 seasons, Rodney Gunter 11 sacks in 5 seasons with only 3.5 total the last 3 seasons.
So while Kliff Kingsbury is clearly an offensive guru, and keeping the ball and scoring is the most important thing to him, this defense needs a lot of work still. Both from a scheming and coaching perspective, and from a personnel perspective.
You can go a long way with schemes, but to get to where the Cardinals want to go you also need personnel and this bunch, this Arizona Cardinals free agency assembly is not going to take us there.
The 2019 defence gave up 38 passing touchdowns, 1 less than the leagues worst team the Miami Dolphins who were TANKING! But the approach so far has been to apply some band aids to the situation, sign some prove-it players who will leave if it works out, and sign roster bodies.
Save to say, for me, this Arizona Cardinals free agency class has piled the pressure on the 2020 draft.