Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Arizona Cardinals. [full archive here].
Season Recap - Just one season removed from a divisional playoff loss, the Kurt Warner-less Arizona Cardinals struggled throughout the 2010 season. Expected Warner replacement, 2006 first round draft pick and former Heisman Trophy winning QB Matt Leinart was released one week before the start of the season. The unexpected move placed the offense in the hands of Quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. No player seized the job, and as a result Arizona finished the season 5-11. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a long to-do list in attempts of putting Arizona back into the winning column.
1. Quarterback – Besides Skelton’s successful drive to beat Dallas in week 16, there were few positives from the position. Arizona finished the season ranked 31st in passing yards and will need to find an upgrade at QB to improve. There have been talks of possibly trading for Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb, but the Cardinals could also decide to see if prospects Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton fall to #5 in the draft. A veteran QB is probably the best option due to Fitzgerald entering the final season under contract.
2. Outside Linebacker – 2010 starters, Joey Porter and Clark Haggans will both be 34 before the start of next season so youth is definitely needed. Rookie O’Brien Schofield, who was injured most of the season, showed some promise recording two sacks to end the year, but Arizona needs to add an opposite pass rushers to their 3-4 defense. OLB Von Miller of Texas A&M would be a great selection in the first round.
3. Offensive Line – Arizona’s O-line gave up a woeful 50 sacks last season. Guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui leave via free agency, and the new QB is going to need some protection. Levi Brown struggled in his first season at LT, and RT Jeremy Bridges will be 31. Expect two or three new starters for the Cardinals in 2011.
4. Tight End – Ben Patrick is scheduled to become a free agent, but even if he returns tight end would still be an area of need. Owen Daniels, Zach Miller, and Kevin Boss are just a few of the options Arizona could potentially sign this offseason.
5. Cornerback – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a very talented corner, but had a poor season. DRC and Greg Toler are the only two corners currently under contract for next season, and Toler is best served in the nickel. Depth is needed, but don’t be surprised if Arizona makes a splash. Cromartie’s cousin, Antonio Cromartie formerly of the New York Jets, is one of the top free agents available and fans would be ecstatic to see him in red and white come fall.