Arizona Cardinals 2022 Offseason Preview: Pending free agents, team needs, draft picks, and more

The Arizona Cardinals have a lot of pending free agents, and they'll need to use draft picks to fill their team needs.

The Arizona Cardinals’ exciting roster finally bore results in 2021. And for quite some time, it looked as if they might be the best team in the NFL. The Cardinals have important decisions to make regarding their pending free agents, team needs, and draft picks. They have some salary cap freedom, but not a ton. The biggest question remains, is this a team still building, or have they hit their proverbial ceiling already?

Arizona Cardinals 2022 Offseason Preview

The Cardinals were an exciting team in 2021, filled with offensive firepower and outstanding defensive results under defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. Kyler Murray is one of the most exhilarating players in the NFL, and he’s still on his rookie deal for the next two seasons.

That means, realistically, the Cardinals have three years to truly maximize paying a quarterback less than 10% of the salary cap. That means they can pay veterans short, lucrative deals as they try and push for a championship in the “rookie contract window.”

The Cardinals have $20.3 million in projected cap space

Source: Spotrac (as of Jan. 9) 

DeAndre Hopkins has a cap hit of over $25 million in 2022, which is over 11% of the total cap. However, Arizona is not currently paying anybody else over 10%, although they do have significant contracts divided well between their top players. They have seven players making over 5% of the team’s cap space in 2022.

Devon Kinnard and Jordan Hicks will account for nearly $10 million against the cap each next season. Additionally, the Cardinals have two well-paid linebackers on rookie deals in Zaven Collins and Isaiah Simmons. They could free up some cap space in the offseason by cutting them both, which they likely won’t, considering the draft capital invested and future potential.

Cardinals’ pending free agents

The Cardinals are not light on pending 2022 free agents. Offensively, Zach Ertz, A.J. Green, Maxx Williams, James Conner, Christian Kirk, and Colt McCoy are all without a contract in 2022. Ertz has made an enormous difference in his short time with Arizona. Green had a career resurgence with the Cardinals, as has Conner. Kirk had a career year at receiver, too. Losing Chase Edmonds would also be a significant blow.

Chandler Jones is the big name on defense. He’ll almost certainly be looking for a new home. It’s difficult to imagine he hangs around for cheap. There aren’t too many other losses of significance defensively. Robert Alford has played well for Arizona, but he’s collecting AARP, and I can’t imagine he’d cost much more than the veteran minimum.

Cardinals’ team needs

Arizona is going to be desperate for pass rushers. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them experimenting with Collins there in the offseason. He showed flashes at Tulsa, and his build is perfect for a standup edge.

The Cardinals could also use help at wide receiver and tight end, although they might have in-house answers there, depending on who they decide to pay.

Cardinals’ top five needs in the 2022 NFL offseason

  • Defensive tackle
  • Defensive end
  • Cornerback
  • Right guard
  • Wide receiver

Cardinals’ 2022 NFL Draft picks

The Cardinals have eight picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. With three picks inside the top 100, they’ll look to address some of their roster needs with premium selections.

Here’s how the Cardinals’ 2022 NFL Draft picks stand according to the current draft order:

  • Round 1 (Pick 23)
  • Round 2 (Pick 23)
  • Round 3 (Pick 23)
  • Round 6 (Pick 23 & 39*)
  • Round 7 (Pick 23, 38* & 40*)

*Projected compensatory selection

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