Cardinals DE Zach Allen (94) – MSA/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
After an underwhelming season in the basement of the NFC West, the Arizona Cardinals have a ton of players entering free agency. The dismal 4-13 record didn’t truly reflect the talent that exists on the Cardinals roster. The real question is: can they retain that young talent? With 31 players hitting free agency, 28 of which hitting the open market, the Cardinals do have to be selective about who truly fits this team’s future.
A ton of turnover has occurred throughout the organization with stars J.J. Watt and A.J. Green retiring, as well as the departure of head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and general manager Steve Keim. Plenty of trending headlines for the wrong reasons defined the 2022 Arizona Cardinals, but new general manager Monti Ossenfort has a clear vision for changing the culture and turning around this franchise. That all starts with players that fit your scheme and mentality.
Here are three must-re-sign Arizona Cardinals in 2023:
Kelvin Beachum Bolsters Arizona Cardinals O-Line
Simply put, the Cardinals need Kelvin Beachum. In an offensive line group that can’t stay healthy and has paper-thin depth, Beachum was a constant all season long. Showing up every time his number is called, Beachum will be a trusted mentor for the young offensive linemen the Cardinals desperately need to bring in.
Entering his 12th NFL season, Beachum deserves to be the first linemen the Cardinals talk to. Hinting at a desire to return, Beachum most likely won’t be too challenging to bring back, but his role remains crucial. As the only offensive lineman to play in all 17 games this season, Beachum was the only consistent man up front.
Statistically, Beachum remains fantastic as well. Posting nothing lower than a 70 grade per Pro Football Focus in the pass block, the Cardinals will need his prowess to keep young quarterback, Kyler Murray, healthy. It is no secret that the Cardinals are in desperate need of an OL revamp in 2023, but Beachum’s consistency and ability to guide young players is a great start.
Arizona Cardinals Retain No. 1 Corner in Byron Murphy
When it comes to re-signing free agents, this guy tops the Cardinals’ list, sitting 1b in priority to the guy we will talk about next.
Listed as the team’s number-one cornerback entering the past two seasons, Byron Murphy has blossomed before Cardinals fans’ eyes since being selected with the 33rd pick in 2019. Murphy was able to remain healthy for the most part of his first three seasons, only missing two games. This year, however, Murphy battled a back injury, forcing him to miss the final eight games of the year.
Before his season came to an untimely end, Murphy was on track for another fantastic year. Recording 36 tackles, three for loss, half a sack, and four passes defended, Murphy was a crucial part of the Cardinals’ defense. He even recovered two fumbles, one of which led to a game-winning overtime touchdown in Las Vegas.
Hailing from Scottsdale, Murphy is a hometown kid with a connection to the Cardinals. His connection to the team and his injuries may just drop his asking price down to an affordable spot too. Lacking a starting-level corner other than Marco Wilson in 2023, the Cardinals must bring Murphy back. With rookie Christian Matthew being the only other piece of value in that corner room, bringing back Murphy is the only option Arizona has.
Arizona Cardinals Priority NO. 1 D-Lineman Zach Allen
Without a surprise to anyone, priority-free agent number one for the Arizona Cardinals is no doubt, Zach Allen.
Coming off his rookie contract, Allen will be a hot commodity after the season he just had. After his best season as a professional with 5.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 19 QB hits, and eight passes defended, Allen was a beast up front. Only J.J. Watt was putting up better pass-rushing numbers than Allen! Shockingly, he was also the second-leading Cardinals defender in pass breakups behind corner Marco Wilson.
There are almost zero negative takeaways from Allen’s 2022 year. That is, other than injury. Missing four games with a hand injury that required surgery, Allen didn’t get to compete in all 17 games. With his know toughness though, this doesn’t seem to be a concern. Arizona Cardinals fans should be excited about the promise that Allen brings, especially after getting hands-on instruction from J.J. Watt. With the future hall of fame retiring in 2022, Allen will be the number one man in the trenches for the Cardinals, most likely on track for career-best numbers.
The Cardinals can’t afford to lose a budding star, especially when they lack so much depth on the defensive front. There is no reason not to pay the guy. He’s just a stud, and he creates a little more wiggle room for the upcoming draft.