Arizona Cardinals Free Agents 2022: Several key offensive weapons in need of new contracts

A majority of the Cardinals' key offensive weapons are set to be free agents in 2022. Who will they bring back, and who might play elsewhere?

The Arizona Cardinals have a significant number of players set to be free agents in 2022. Among them are several key offensive players, particularly pass catchers. With one of the worst cap situations in the NFL, Arizona may have some tough decisions ahead of them.

Arizona Cardinals free agents in 2022

Following the conclusion of the 2021-22 NFL season, the Cardinals have 27 players with expiring contracts; 24 of them will be unrestricted free agents, two are exclusive rights free agents, and one is a restricted free agent. All players are unrestricted free agents unless stated.

Top Cardinals offensive free agents

The Cardinals’ most important offensive pieces remain under contact, but their secondary pass catchers and entire backfield are set to hit free agency. Let’s take a look at the most prominent free agents on offense.

Zach Ertz | TE

The Cardinals traded for Zach Ertz midway through the 2021 season. He immediately became a key offensive contributor and their primary tight end.

Ertz will still be just 31 years old to start the 2022 season. He’s expressed interest in returning to the Cardinals, and I imagine the team feels the same way. Look for both sides to work out a mutually beneficial agreement and for Ertz to play at least the next couple of seasons in Arizona.

A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Antoine Wesley | WR

The Cardinals have DeAndre Hopkins under contract. That’s about it for their wide receiver room. Their WR2, WR3, and WR4 are all free agents.

We’ll start with Antoine Wesley because he’s the easiest to figure out. Wesley is 24 years old and an ERFA. The Cardinals will almost certainly extend an offer to bring Wesley back at the veteran’s minimum, if not give him a multi-year extension. He proved competent enough to be a reliable WR3/4 for them.

For Christian Kirk, it could go either way. I’m sure the Cardinals have an interest in bringing him back, but the 25-year-old has been far too marginalized during his time in Arizona. Kirk will have no shortage of offers from receiver-needy teams in free agency. He and the Cardinals will certainly discuss an extension, but my money is on Kirk playing for someone else in 2022.

Prior to the 2021 season, A.J. Green signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals with the hope of proving he could still play football. Although he’s nowhere near the elite talent he once was, I think Green accomplished that goal. At 34 years old, his time left in the NFL is limited. The Cardinals could bring him back on another one-year deal, but I think Green will latch on elsewhere as a veteran complementary piece.

James Conner, Chase Edmonds, and Jonathan Ward | RB

Currently, the only running back under contract for the Cardinals is 2020 seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin. James Conner and Chase Edmonds made quite the formidable running back duo in 2021, and they were inexpensive. Conner made just $1.75 million last season, while Edmonds was paid $728,000 in the final year of his rookie deal.

Conner is 27 years old and Edmonds is 26. They’re both past the age apex, but by no means in the twilight of their respective careers. Conner has expressed a desire to return to the Cardinals in 2022. He proved a whole lot of doubters, myself included, wrong in 2021. Look for the two sides to work out a two- or three-year extension.

As for Edmonds, I think he wants more than to be a complementary piece to Conner. The Cardinals are cap-strapped with under $3 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. They aren’t going to be able to devote the necessary funds to retain both Conner and Edmonds. Expect Edmonds to play for a different team in 2022.

As an ERFA, Jonathan Ward will likely come back for the veteran’s minimum. Ward was playing ahead of Benjamin by the end of the season, and the team likely prefers him as their RB3.

Top Cardinals defensive free agents

The Cardinals have very few defensive players set to hit free agency. With that said, two of them are pretty important players that the team should look to bring back.

Chandler Jones | LB

The Cardinals tried to extend Chandler Jones last offseason, but they reportedly made him a bit of a “low ball” offer. Ultimately, Jones played out 2021 on the final season of his contract, earning a $15.5 million base salary.

There is no doubt the Cardinals want Jones back. Even at 32 years old, Jones is still capable of playing at an All-Pro level and made the Pro Bowl this past season. It will take some nifty cap maneuvering, but general managers are quite adept at this practice. Whether Jones returns to the Cardinals will depend on if they’re willing to open up the checkbook. After last offseason’s failed extension, it’s fair to wonder if we’ve seen the last of Jones as a Cardinal.

Corey Peters | DT

Despite turning 34 years old this year, Corey Peters remains a starting defensive tackle in the NFL. At 335 pounds, Peters just clogs the lane.

Peters made about $1.2 million last season. Given his age, he shouldn’t be overly costly to retain. Look for Peters and the Cardinals to work out a deal bringing him back for another season or two.

The Cardinals’ other free agents in 2022

What other Cardinals players are free agents in 2022? Some of these players inevitably won’t return next season.

  • Maxx Williams | TE
  • Dennis Gardeck | LB
  • Ezekiel Turner | LB
  • Andy Lee | P
  • Colt McCoy | QB
  • Chris Banjo | S
  • Charles Washington | S
  • Darrell Daniels | TE
  • Max Garcia | G
  • Demetrius Harris | TE
  • Jack Crawford | DT
  • Aaron Brewer | LS
  • Robert Alford | CB
  • Zane Gonzalez | K
  • Kevin Peterson | CB
  • Michael Dogbe | DE (RFA)
  • Chris Streveler | QB
  • Joe Walker | LB

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