Even in the midst of this troubling virus, like every other NFL team, the Arizona Cardinals have spent their off-season wheeling and dealing, trying to add some extra pieces to help them gain an edge in the competitive NFC West. It will be the second year of the Kliff Kingsbury tenure, and he too is looking for an improvement on the 5-10-1 showing from last year. Heck, with as much energy as he has, he wants to be the next Bill Belichick! The Arizona Cardinals’ signings have faced some scrutiny in the past, but this year they have moved to a better start, so far. Let’s see if these off-season acquisitions can help him do that. Here is a summary of the Cardinals’ offseason activity:
De’Vondre Campbell, Linebacker
The Cardinals got the ball rolling with they got former Falcons linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to agree to a one-year, $8.5 million deal. He was very consistent during his time with Atlanta, playing in all 16 games for each of his last three seasons. He recorded 5.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and had a total of 363 tackles (234 solo and 129 combined). He brings a tremendous amount of versatility to the Cardinals defense, with the impressive ability to play either hanging off the edge or alongside new teammate Jordan Hicks at inside linebacker. State Farm Stadium will definitely have something to cheer about when he and the rest of the defense suit up. Arizona football on the defensive side will also be much improved with this addition because Campbell is great at covering tight ends, which is something that the Arizona Cardinals have been sorely lacking in for the last couple of years. The only downside I can see with this signing is that Campbell’s signing could mean less field time for fellow linebacker Joe Walker, whom Campbell is going to be in direct competition with. The Cardinals training camp should be interesting this year simply because the Cardinals’ front office isn’t going to be thrilled about paying 8 mil to a backup if Walker pulls a rabbit out of his hat and beats out this newcomer.
Devon Kennard, Outside Linebacker
Devon Kennard was another signing for the Cardinals that was making the rounds of all of the Phoenix news (link here) outlets. He is a veteran linebacker that has had stints with the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants. He was drafted by the G-men in round five of the 2014 NFL draft. He made an immediate impact, recording 36 solo sacks along with 7 assisted sacks for a total of 43 in his rookie season. He also did a fine job of pressuring the quarterback, with a total of 5 QB hits that first year. Even though his next season was shortened due to injuries, he was still able to record 58 total tackles as well as notching his first (and to date only) interception under his belt. He finished his career with the Giants in 2017 with a total of 203 combined tackles and even had a few forced fumbles to his credit. During his two-year stint with the Lions, he had 104 combined tackles and three fumble recoveries. With the Cardinals, he will be joining fellow outside linebacker Chandler Jones in an effort to win the starting job. He will have a bit of a challenge on his hands because the current outside linebacker is Haason Reddick, and if he keeps his job the Cardinals will need to determine what to do with Kennard. However, considering he had seven sacks each year he played for Detroit, he had career years with the Lions, so he has as good a chance as any to win the starting job.
Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle
The Cardinals also sharpened up their defense by adding big guy Jordan Phillips at Defensive End from the Buffalo Bills. Phillips recently agreed to a 3-year $30 million contract in order to fill a much-needed gap at Defensive End for the Cardinals. This is VERY crucial as one of the most significant and underrated Arizona Cardinals’ signings in the off season. Phillips will be teaming up with Nose Tackle Corey Peters, and his main role will be to increase the Cardinals’ pressure up the middle. While there is no question that Chandler Jones had some elite NFL edge rushing, part of the reason that the Cardinals were a non-factor in the NFC West is because of their lack of a big man on the end. Phillips will fill that role nicely, and with minimal risk. Of course, injuries are par for the course in sports, Phillips has developed an impressively strong track record for staying healthy. Just consider the fact that he has played in 76 out of 80 games in his career. Part of the reason that Jordan Phillips got such a huge payday is that he is likely to give this team a good return on their investment. He might even give this the extra push to possibly compete for a wildcard spot or even better. Time will tell, of course, but the results should be good.
Kenyan Drake, Running Back
One of the biggest differences between Kenyan Drake and the rest of these guys is that Drake was already with the Cardinals. However, the Arizona brass quickly realized he was growing in stature during this offseason. That is one of the main reasons why they placed the franchise tag on him. This means that the Cardinals get to know what types of offers Drake might be receiving from other teams, and they have a right of first refusal. Although this is not one of the Arizona Cardinals’ signings that we are looking for, it is still a step forward. They did this because he is a huge asset to their running game to say the least. Of course, there is a bit of a risk involved simply because there might be a team that would match Arizona’s offer. In that case, the Cardinals would be left with Chase Edmonds picking up the slack on running duties. That would be a shame, because Chase Edmonds has only accumulated 511 total yards in two years with the team, whereas Drake had 643 with the Cards last year. Still not great, but much better than Edmonds’ total.
It will be interesting to see how this offseason continues to play out, to say the least.