Arizona Cardinals Offseason Expectations | 2024

Arizona Cardinals Offseason Expectations | 2024

We are well into the 2024 NFL offseason — it’s an exciting time that can bring new coaches, free-agent players, and rookies from the NFL Draft. The Arizona Cardinals, for one, are definitely in need of a new cornerstone piece, as their roster did not show any signs of improvement in 2023. But they finished 4-13, giving them the fourth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and the opportunity to select one of the best players in college football. With the various issues the Cardinals have on their roster, there are many questions as to who they will pick—their choice could very well set up the future of the franchise.

With head coach Jonathan Gannon entering his second year, he can build upon a very solid 2023 draft in what looks to be a very deep and talented 2024 Class. Here’s a breakdown of some crucial considerations for the Cardinals to consider on draft night as we explore the Arizona Cardinal offseason expectations.

Stick with Kyler Murray or Explore Alternatives?

The Cardinals have to make one of the most difficult decisions in football; deciding whether or not to stick with their current quarterback. Theirs will be an especially difficult choice as this quarterback class is loaded with talent. While many experts believe Caleb Williams will be the first overall selection, there are about 10-12 other quarterbacks expected to be drafted. The Cardinals have the chance to land one of the top quarterback prospects, however, with the depth in this draft, the Cardinals can also look to take a less-coveted quarterback in a later round and bolster their squad in other areas with their two first-round picks. While bigger names like Jayden Daniels, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr. are intriguing, some potential later-round picks include Michael Pratt, Jordan Travis, and Sam Hartman.

The decision will be based solely on their belief in Kyler Murray. Through his first five years in the league, Murray has made the playoffs just once, but in 2022, coming off of his best season, he suffered a torn ACL and could not return until week ten of 2023. When he returned, the Cardinals improved as Murray quarterbacked three of the team’s four wins. Next year, Murray will be entering just his sixth season, and it would be hard to blame the Cardinals for wanting to stick with him. After reinforcing their offensive line last year by selecting Paris Johnson Jr. in the first round, they have a great chance to surround him with some offensive firepower and see if Murray, combined with these weapons, can recreate the success they saw in 2021.

At the same time, the NFL is in an era where the “leash” is very short when measuring success. Coaches are getting fired within their first few years if they aren’t able to instantly turn a franchise around the way Dan Campbell or DeMeco Ryans have, and quarterbacks are given an even shorter amount of time to prove themselves. Something for the Cardinals to consider is that the grass isn’t always greener. When a new regime like Jonathan Gannon and his staff take over, they often decide to go in their own direction—however, Murray’s potential and playmaking ability suggest that investing in his development could yield significant dividends for the team.

Strengthening Offensive Weapons Is How the Arizona Cardinals’ Offseason Expectations Will Be Judged

When the Cardinals last made the playoffs in 2021, they had a dynamic, star-studded group of pass catchers. That is not now the case. Although Trey McBride has answered every question at tight end, Marquise Brown has not worked out as hoped, and the receivers, in general, leave more to be desired. Luckily for the Cardinals, the number-four pick presents the possibility of getting the best wide receiver in the draft, Marvin Harrison Jr.

Marvin Harrison Jr. (son of Hall of Fame wideout Marvin Harrison) is one of the best wide-receiver prospects of all time. He’s been compared to Calvin Johnson, Randy Moss, Julio Jones, and, very fittingly, Larry Fitzgerald. In his two full years as a starter at Ohio State, he had back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, scoring 14 touchdowns in each. This earned him two unanimous All-American selections and the 2023 Biletnikoff Award. Adding this type of talent would make any quarterback’s life easier.

The Cardinals also have the 27th overall pick in this year’s first round after trading their top-three pick with the Houston Texans last year. While it’s unlikely that the Cardinals will take two receivers with both first-round picks, Marvin Harrison Jr. may get selected within the first three picks. This could shift the Cardinals’ entire approach—they might then move down the draft board and select one of the next-best receivers in a more appropriate position and use the leverage of the number-four pick to gain some extra draft capital.

The Importance of the Offensive Line: Protecting the Investment

Protecting the quarterback and establishing consistency in the running game both depend on the performance of the offensive line. With the exception of veterans D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum, the Cardinals have a bit of a younger group of offensive linemen, hoping they can continue to develop and grow together as a unit. The Cardinals’ offensive line had a very promising year, finishing 4th in rushing offense and 19th in passing offense. The lower rank in passing offense was likely due to the inconsistencies at QB with Murray missing most of the season. However, in the NFL, you can never have too many linemen, and in this draft class, the linemen are stacked with first-round talent at both the guard and tackle positions. There are around four to six offensive linemen projected to be selected in the first round. The highest-rated prospects include Joe Alt, Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Taliese Fuaga, and JC Latham. Any of these players would be great picks to build a strong O-line around, and although they are the least “flashy” position, no team will ever regret selecting a cornerstone lineman.

Addressing Needs On the Defense

A common saying in the sporting world is that “defense wins championships,” and it’s often true. The Cardinals struggled a bit on the defensive side of the ball last season; while they were in the top half of the league in passing defense at 13th, they were dead last in rushing defense. Their second pick in the first round at number 27 is a prime position to take a quality defender with multiple first-round edge rushers, cornerbacks, and interior defensive linemen available. Some players include Jer’zhan Newton, Byron Murphy II, Jared Verse, and Dallas Turner. Still, countless others are just as capable of making an impact as the Cardinals continue to build their defense. And despite the strong season their secondary had last year behind All-pro safety Budda Baker, the Cardinals could look to bolster the cornerback position. They haven’t been able to land on a number-one corner since the departures of Patrick Peterson in 2021 and Byron Murphy the following season. Players to look out for at the cornerback position are Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Terrion Arnold.

Making a Splash in Free Agency

Before the NFL Draft comes free agency, and as loaded as the draft is with talent, this year’s free-agent pool may be one of the best in recent history. At running back, there’s Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Derrick Henry. The wide receivers include Michael Pittman Jr., Tee Higgins, and Mike Evans, and on the offensive line, there are strong veterans like Tyron Smith and Trent Brown. As for the defense, the D-line has the most star power with standouts like Chris Jones, Josh Allen, Danielle Hunter, Brian Burns, and Chase Young. The linebacking group is full of instant starters like Lavonte David and Bobby Wagner. In the secondary, there’s L’Jarius Sneed, Stephon Gilmore, and Antoine Winfield Jr. rounding out the long list of top defenders.

The Cardinals have over $40 million in cap space to spend this offseason, which puts them in the top half of the league money-wise. This opens the door to bringing in a big-name free agent. Should they be able to land one or more of these players, it could make the decisions on draft night a lot easier and answer a lot of the questions everyone currently has about the direction they are looking to go in 2024.

Wrapping up the Arizona Cardinals Offseason Expectations for 2024

The Arizona Cardinals are preparing to enter one of the most anticipated offseasons. Many players in the NFL Draft are considered franchise-level players with Hall of Fame potential, and the free agent pool features superstar after superstar. The Cardinals must balance filling immediate needs and building toward their long-term vision. They are a very young team building on both sides of the ball and can’t go wrong with whoever they choose to bring in this summer. Whether they reaffirm their commitment to Kyler Murray, go in a new direction under center, add an offensive juggernaut, or fortify their defense, the Cardinals should be excited for the 2024 season with a new and improved look to their team.

Sports betting odds for the Arizona Cardinals to win the Super Bowl, NFC, NFC West, and make the playoffs can be found here.

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