5 Players the Arizona Cardinals could trade for before the 2021 deadline

    Could the Arizona Cardinals be in the news again leading up to the 2021 NFL trade deadline? If so, which players could they target?

    The Arizona Cardinals have already made a move to improve their roster ahead of the 2021 NFL trade deadline. Arizona added Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles to bolster an already loaded offense. The question now is, will the Cardinals be in the news again as they look to add more players before the deadline?

    The Arizona Cardinals are hampered in potential trades by their salary cap

    Following the trade for Ertz, the Cardinals have less than $3.5 million in available salary cap space in 2021, according to Spotrac. Now, while cap space is a somewhat fluid concept with teams able to renegotiate and restructure contracts in order to open up more room, being under $5 million is restrictive for the Cardinals in terms of getting aggressive in the trade market ahead of the deadline.

    If the Cardinals wanted to be aggressive and push their chips to the middle of the table in 2021, they have some options for restructures. They could free up just over $7 million in cap space with D.J. Humphries, as well as around $5 million with the newly acquired contract of Ertz. There are smaller potential cap space additions that could be made with the contracts of Devon Kennard, DeAndre Hopkins, Budda Baker, and Jordan Phillips.

    However, the Cardinals need to have options worth making a move for to make those restructures worthwhile. For example, a popular name on the trade market is Allen Robinson. However, the Cardinals are already loaded at wide receiver. Therefore, hampering future cap space to sign Robinson would not be a worthwhile maneuver.

    Which players could the Cardinals potentially trade for ahead of the deadline?

    The Cardinals’ roster is reasonably loaded, as you would expect given their 7-0 start. Still, that doesn’t mean there are no potential options to add more depth to the roster in case of injuries. It would be devastating for the Cardinals to have a good season, only for injuries to hamper their playoff run. Let’s take a look at some names the Cardinals may consider adding ahead of the deadline.

    Kyle Fuller, CB, Denver Broncos

    The Cardinals have received superb play out of Byron Murphy at cornerback. Yet, the depth on the roster is not great at the position. Kyle Fuller has not had his best year with the Broncos. Nevertheless, he’s a veteran corner who could provide adequate depth for the Cardinals in 2021.

    Fuller’s contract is somewhat of a sticking point with a $9 million cap hit, meaning the Cardinals would need to get creative. However, with cornerback a premium position and injuries at the position reasonably common, Fuller would make for a fantastic insurance piece if the Cardinals are eyeing up a Super Bowl run.

    Shelby Harris, DT, Denver Broncos

    The news of J.J. Watt requiring season-ending surgery has opened up a need for the Cardinals on their defensive line. Watt is a tough player to replace like-for-like with his skill set, but the Cardinals could at least look to add more talent to their line.

    Shelby Harris is having a solid first half of the 2021 NFL season, and he brings a veteran presence that is always valuable to a potential contender. Harris has 2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 4 QB hits this season.

    He also brings just a $1 million cap hit with him this season. The one problem is that Harris has a $5 million guaranteed salary in 2022 that the Cardinals would have to swallow if they wanted to take him on.

    Austin Johnson, DT, New York Giants

    Any competitive team can always use more interior depth on the defensive line. With 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and 4 QB hits, Austin Johnson has had a strong 2021 season. On a one-year deal with a $1.5 million cap hit, Johnson would become a valuable addition for the Cardinals.

    Johnson might not be the name that makes fans excited, but he is a talented player on the defensive line. The departure of Watt has created a need on the defensive line. Johnson might not be a perfect replacement but he has demonstrated this season he can be a difference-maker. He might be a touch more expensive than Shelby this season, but there is no issues surrounding future salary with Johnson.

    Ted Karras, G/C, New England Patriots

    The interior of the offensive line has not been great for the Cardinals this year. If they are going to make a move and risk destabilizing that unit, it needs to be for an incredibly talented veteran. Ted Karras would certainly tick the veteran box and would come with just $1 million in cap space. It would not be a move that gets fans excited, but given Karras’ versatility at center, it could be a savvy addition.

    Chris Lindstrom, G, Atlanta Falcons

    If the Cardinals want to go for upside on the interior of the offensive line, then Chris Lindstrom is an intriguing option. The problem is that the younger option may need time to settle into the line. Thus, in the short term, he could disrupt the unit. Furthermore, with at least one more year remaining on his rookie deal, the Falcons might not yet be ready to give up on their former first-round pick.

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