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Cardinals a Few Steps Short of Contending



By Cameron Moon

There is no question that in the 2011 offseason, the Arizona Cardinals have done their part bringing players in that are going to upgrade the team. It is obvious the Cards have higher expectations of themselves than finishing in last place in their division. The moves they’ve made in acquiring true talent indicate that they are ready to make another run at the Super Bowl, and win it this time.

Before they get that far, there are still a few things that need to get done. Priority number one for the Cardinals should be locking up All Universe wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He has expressed his willingness to stay with the team long term as long as there is someone to throw to him and he can play in a good offense.

They’ve added a lot of offensive weapons to make the transition for new quarterback Kevin Kolb as simple as possible, and now, the main focus should be making sure Larry Fitzgerald is happy so he can continue to produce. He is far and away the team’s highest producing and most reliable target, considering that in a down year for him, he tallied 90 receptions, 1,137 yards and 6 touchdowns. General Manager Rod Graves has been quoted saying that he would like Fitzgerald to be a part of the team’s long term future: “If Larry is sincere about his willingness to remain here, then I believe we’ll get a deal worked out before the start of the season,” Graves said.

The next thing to lock down in the Cardinals front office is finding a complement to Fitzgerald. Just like having a two or three deep running back tandem keeps the running game fresh and keeps the defense on its’ heels, a speedy deep threat that will stretch the secondary and take some attention away from Fitzgerald, who precise route running makes him extremely successful in the short to intermediate range, and Todd Heap charging down the middle. Adding a piece like free agent Steve Smith from the Giants or Braylon Edwards from the Jets would give the Cardinals one of the toughest passing games to defend against.

Third on the to-do list of General Manager Rod Graves should be finding a reasonable financial solution to improve the defensive backfield. The addition of Richard Marshall was a good move, but the secondary still has a 6’2” 182 pound hole in it where Cromartie once roamed.

There’s a rumor floating about that the Eagles are putting Asante Samuel on the trading block. Samuel has nabbed 35 interceptions the last five seasons and will probably have a pretty high price tag, as much as a second round pick, something the Cardinals already gave to the Eagles for Kevin Kolb. Getting a short term fix at the cornerback position from a 30 year old (who’s seen a ton of playing time) for such a high price may not be worth it.

A player to focus on is Brent Grimes from the Atlanta Falcons. A relative unknown, Grimes has been a starter for the Falcons the last two seasons. Grimes is a Restricted Free Agent, so luring him away from the Atlanta will be more difficult, but he is the type of player the Cardinals can use to fortify their back end, but more importantly, Grimes is a player they can afford. Since becoming the starter, he has picked off 15 passes, defended 36 passes, and racked up 153 tackles.

The Arizona Cardinals are quickly and quietly having one of the best free agency periods in the League, and with a few more key moves, they will position themselves as a contender in the NFC West.


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