A Look at the Cardinals’ Needs Heading into the 2024 Offseason

The Cardinals showed some signs of life on offense after the return of Kyler Murray in 2023, bringing optimism as the attention shifts to 2024.

That side of the ball still has a little work to do, while the league’s worst defense is in need of tremendous improvement.

Arizona has the ninth-most cap space in the NFL and six draft picks in the first three rounds, so there are avenues to upgrade the roster.

Here is my look at each side of the ball, and the positions that need to be addressed.

OFFENSE

Projected starters

  • QB: Kyler Murray
  • RB: James Conner
  • WR1:
  • LT: Paris Johnson
  • LG:
  • C: Hjalte Froholdt
  • RG: Will Hernandez
  • RT:
  • TE: Trey McBride
  • WR2:
  • WR3: Michael Wilson

Projected starters returning: 7
Upgrades needed: 4

Analysis: The Cardinals are in pretty good shape on offense, especially considering their most glaring need of wide receiver will likely be answered in the first round of the draft. Adding Marvin Harrison, Jr. to the above group would suddenly make it pretty potent, and he has -180 odds to end up in Arizona.

If it’s not Harrison, tackle could be addressed early, with a rookie wide receiver or two selected later. I think the Cardinals will mostly focus on defense in free agency, but a veteran guard or a steady wideout makes sense.

Overall, this is the group that gives the Cardinals hope next season. Arizona averaged 5.0 yards per carry in 2023 and the rushing attack should again be strong next year, based on the return of James Conner and the gravity that Kyler Murray pulls from a defense because of his elite quickness.

McBride is a burgeoning star, and another wideout or two would round out the offense nicely. 

DEFENSE

Projected starters

  • OLB: BJ Ojulari
  • DE:
  • DT:
  • OLB:
  • LB: Kyzir White
  • LB: Zaven Collins
  • CB:
  • S: Budda Baker
  • S: Jalen Thompson
  • Slot CB:
  • CB: Garrett Williams

Projected starters returning: 6
Upgrades needed: 5

Analysis: The good news is that the Cardinals aren’t going to lose anyone of substance from the defense this offseason. The bad news is that the group finished last in DVOA in 2023 and allowed 26.8 points per game.

Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson and Kyzir White are the veteran standouts, while the hope is that a promising rookie class takes a nice leap in Year 2. While guys like B.J. Ojulari and Dante Stills will still be in a rotation up-front, they will be counted on to have expanded roles.

Garrett Williams looked great as a rookie but the Cardinals still need massive help at cornerback. Williams played the slot in Year 1 but Arizona may try him outside this season depending on the personnel additions, though at 5-foot-10 the team could just keep him at nickel and have that spot locked down for the next few years.

I’ve penciled in Zaven Collins at inside linebacker after a rough transition to the edge, though I have no idea what the Cardinals will do with him. Collins could be a trade candidate like Isaiah Simmons before him, if there is any market, or he could be a backup outside linebacker in his final year with Arizona.

The defensive front is the biggest concern, and free agency could be a place where that is addressed. The trade market is also a possibility. Haason Reddick wants out of Philly and the Cardinals have the money to acquire the upper-tier pass-rusher and ink him to an extension, if they so choose.

Arizona absolutely needs a game-wrecker up front, and two would be nice. A top-tier corner is also on the wish list, but this may be a two-year defensive overhaul, in actuality.

The Cardinals will almost certainly be more talented on defense in 2024, but it’s a big jump to league average, and that’s what it may take for the playoffs to be realistic next season.

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