- The Cardinals face a significant offseason as they look to build a contender
- Draft, free agency and trade decisions could alter future of the franchise
- Key offseason needs for Arizona are outlined below
The Cardinals play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Their approach to the offseason will be critical if they want to secure a playoff spot next season.
Arizona Cardinals offseason: Key free agents
Arizona has some very interesting complementary pieces set to hit free agency in a few weeks. Their secondary could be completely revamped if they don’t choose to bring back CB Patrick Peterson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick and CB Jonathan Joseph.
All three players are 31 or older, and likely on the back end of their careers, but provide a stabilizing veteran presence on a young team that needs some older leaders. In addition, the Cardinals play the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams twice each every year, and need a secondary up to the task of stopping both of those teams’ receiver tandems.
RB Kenyan Drake is also going to be an interesting case for Cardinals management, to see how much money they are willing to allocate to a backfield player. WR Larry Fitzgerald, as always, will take the offseason to decide whether he wants to return for another NFL season. If the future Hall of Famer does return in 2021, it will be his 18th season in the league, all with the Cardinals.
Arizona Cardinals offseason: Positions of need
The Cardinals have become one of the most well rounded teams in the NFL over the past few seasons, but the unit where they had the most trouble this year was on the defensive line.
More specifically, the Cardinals had a tough time stopping the run. Arizona finished last in the NFL in average rushing yards allowed per game, and will need to bolster their defense up the middle, likely with a defensive tackle or defensive ends who are strong in the run game.
The team could have needs at running back and in the secondary if they choose not to re-sign players mentioned in the above section.
Arizona Cardinals 2021 draft picks
R1: 16th overall
R2: 49th overall
R3: 80th overall
R5: 144th overall
R7: 208th overall
But the Cardinals are in an interesting position, since they can decide to make stronger parts of their team even more formidable (receiver, cornerback, linebacker), or opt to address weaknesses on the defensive line. Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore could get a long look from Arizona at 16, and the team could also do their due diligence on fellow Crimson Tide player Najee Harris if they want to move on from Drake.