Arizona Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley

Breaking down the Arizona Cardinals 2020 free agents

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  • nfl free agency
By Alexander Mann March 10, 2020 0 Comment
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The clock is nearing midnight for the Arizona Cardinals. Several deadlines are right around the corner, and free agency opens in a week.

The NFL is closing in on its new league year. The deadline to place a Franchise or Transition tag is on March 12th. The Arizona Cardinals only have one impending free agent who may be worthy of either. Then a few days later, the Cardinals will need to extend offers to the restricted and exclusive right players if they intend to keep them—more on the difference between those two further in.

The team has several free agents. There’s an essential factor in this offseasons negotiation—the proposed CBA. There are a lot of big names that are still not signed by their team thanks to the uncertainty of labor peace moving past the 2020 season. That is a concern on both sides of the spectrum. The players need to know what they are signing. And the owners need to know that they can lock up a talented player and they don’t have to worry about a work stoppage next season.

The following free agents were pulled from the Arizona Cardinals’ official website.

Exclusive Rights:

Justin Murray

Only one player falls under this category for the Cardinals. It will be a shock if he does not return to the team for the 2020 season. Exclusive players are required to sign a tender, which would sign him to a one-year deal for 660 thousand dollars fully guaranteed.

Restricted Free Agent:

Zane Gonzalez
Kevin Peterson
Charles Washington

Restricted players can be tagged in one of three ways. Teams can extend a first, second, or original round tender to restricted players. What these add up to is a different value for the player and possible compensation to the team. A player who signs a first-round tender is looking at a 4.6 million dollar deal. Another team can come and pursue the player, but if the original team decides to let him walk, the signing team must forfeit their first-round pick to the original team.

For the Arizona Cardinals restricted players, none warrant a first or second-round tender. The Cardinals would be wise to bring back all three on the original round tender, which would pay them 2.1 million fully guaranteed. Zane Gonzalez was a seventh-round pick for the Cleveland Browns and was very consistent for the Cardinals in 2019.

Peterson and Washington were both undrafted, so if they were to sign more lucrative deals, the Cardinals would get nothing in return. Washington, in particular, played a role for the Cardinals’ special teams. Kevin Peterson played on defense thanks to a plethora of injuries across the board. For a secondary that struggled last year, it would be wise to keep as many bodies as you can throughout the offseason to gauge what you have for the upcoming season.

Unrestricted Free Agent:

Kenyan Drake
A.Q. Shipley
Pharoh Cooper
Rodney Gunter
Damiere Byrd
Cassius Marsh
Brett Hundley
Marcus Gilbert
Charles Clay
D.J. Foster
Max Garcia
Joe Walker
Chris Banjo
Zach Kerr
Jonathan Bullard
Clinton McDonald
Jordan Mills
Brooks Reed
Caraun Reid
Brandon Williams

The headline of this group is Drake. He was traded from the Miami Dolphins to the Arizona Cardinals midseason and provided them with a spark. Right now, both parties are in limbo. Drake reportedly wants 10 million a year, and the Cardinals are not willing to go past five.

Offensive line help

The rest of the offense centers around Shipley and the tackles. Does Shipley return? Are the Cardinals comfortable enough with Mason Cole‘s development to hand him the reigns at center? Those are questions that will start to have the answers in the next week. Mills, Garcia, and Gilbert are all candidates to return. The Cardinals need the versatility on the offensive line.

Pharoh Cooper and Damiere Byrd are also two names to monitor. Both had roles on offense, and both made different splash plays. Cooper offered a returner and special teams option, and Byrd was the teams stretch the field option.

Brett Hundley is someone that has been brought up more recently. Do the Cardinals want to get younger with their backup? Or do they like what Hundley does as a veteran enough to keep him around with Murray?

Cardinals need help across the defense

Defensively the Cardinals need a lot of help at every position. The defensive line has become the focal point for fans, as they lack a lot of consistency. Rodney Gunter re-signed after his free-agent market never developed. Did he do enough to warrant another return in Arizona, or will another team finally pursue? Jonathan Bullard came in late last season off of waivers but wound up on IR late in the year. The defensive front perhaps needs the most significant upgrades across the board.

Cassius Marsh offers a good veteran presence and depth piece opposite of Chandler Jones, but the Arizona Cardinals could be in the market for an upgrade at that position anyway.

Like the rest of the NFL, the clock is ticking on the Arizona Cardinals to get deals done and secure more cap space with free agency right around the corner.

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