Welcome to the 2nd ever edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race in the Perspective of Chase’, an almost daily article on an NFL team. Last article we did the Miami Dolphins and what they can do next season if you want to check that out. Today we’re talking about the Arizona Cardinals. We are also doing something very similar to this on the Cool Sports Newsletter and our first team was the Philadelphia 76ers if you want to check that out as well. But with that out of the way, lets, get into this!
The Cardinals have done what a rebuilding team is supposed to do. They started to rebuild in 2018. In the 2018 draft, they took a flyer on a young prospect quarterback, Josh Rosen (which we’ll get into, didn’t go too well). Then they took talented wide receiver Christian Kirk and running back Chase Edmonds. Those were key players on their team last season. And while Rosen didn’t pan out to be, even a serviceable NFL quarterback, they admitted their mistake. If a team makes a draft mistake or a signing mistake, it’s better to admit your mistake instead of making it a bigger one. And that’s what they did. They let Rosen go after the 2018 season, and replaced him with Kyler Murray in 2019, after landing the #1 overall pick with their 3-13 record in 2018.
But then after the 2019 season, and a pretty successful season for offensive rookie of the year quarterback, stars were attracted to Arizona. They wanted to play with the team they were assembling. The Cardinals made one of the best value trades in the NFL history and the Texans made one of the worst trades, period, in NFL history! The Cardinals sent David Johnson (a somewhat injury prone running back in his later 20’s that hadn’t done anything since 2016) and a 2nd and 4th round pick for the upcoming 2020 NFL draft in exchange for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, DeAndre Hopkins. In the 2020 season with a lot of expectations, “Hail Murray” had given the Cardinals a 6-3 record to start the season. However, they collapsed and ended up missing the playoffs at 8-8.
In the 2021 offseason, more attraction happened. James Conner and JJ Watt both came to Arizona to play with the crew. Conner ended up making the Pro Bowl with them this season and before Watt got injured, he was playing very well.
In the 2021 season, Arizona started off hot again. Except, not just hot. Because, Arizona started off the season 7-0, dominating the NFC West in a division with the Rams and 49ers. At that point though, JJ Watt had gone down. And in a Week 10 collapse against the Panthers, DeAndre Hopkins went down with a season ending injury. An 8-2 Cardinals at the time were still a contender, but people were curious to see what Murray and Arizona could do without D-Hop. Well, not a lot! After he went down, they finished the season 3-4, with a three game losing streak included, finishing with the 6th seed in the NFC! And without DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals got demolished by the Rams.
But early in the offseason, news came out that Kyler Murray was considering not playing until a contract agreement is made between him and Arizona, which put a lot of pressure on them.
The Cardinals decided to make a very big move in the front office today, signing their former #1 overall pick Murray to a 5 year, $230.5 million deal. He will be making the 2nd most money for any quarterback in the NFL this season (behind Aaron Rodgers) and has the 3rd largest money amount total for any quarterback deal currently in the NFL, only behind Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. In my opinion, Kyler deserves a contract like this. If Deshaun Watson has this kind of contract, if Derek Carr has pretty similar contract, Murray also deserves it. However, he hasn’t shown to be a proven winner in the postseason yet. However, he does only have one game under his belt in the playoffs, which I mentioned was a complete disaster!
However, things just continued to get worse for Arizona. DeAndre Hopkins tested positive for certain substances that you’re not allowed to have in the NFL, and was given a six game suspension for it. While there is a rumor the suspension will go away, for now the suspension is still happening. Going off of that, how can Arizona win games without him now? Because they couldn’t last season. Well, what have they done so far this offseason?
On draft night, they traded for Baltimore’s, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. In exchange they gave up the 22nd overall pick, which Baltimore eventually traded down to #25 where they selected center, Tyler Linderbaum. While it seems to be an overpay, considering the Eagles got A.J. Brown for a very similar offer, it is a decent pickup for Arizona. Brown is a fast, athletic wide receiver that can run all over the field. He is coming off a season where he had just over 1,000 yards receiving with 6 touchdowns.
But they didn’t really pick up anyone else. They did resign Zach Ertz, James Conner and A.J. Green which is important, but they didn’t add more to the team. They actually lost assets. They lost Chase Edmonds (Dolphins), Christian Kirk (Jaguars) and Chandler Jones (Raiders) to free agency and they were some of their key players last season. While James Conner was good last season, I think a lot of his success was due to Edmonds ability. Kirk is a very good wide receiver, but they probably don’t need him now that they have Brown. But Jones is the biggest loss. He’s always been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and losing him for nothing is a very huge loss for an already inconsistent defense.
Arizona now has the same roster, except with Brown and without those three players. Their wide receiver core now looks like Hopkins, Brown, Green and Rondale Moore, who has massive potential for this upcoming season. But, Cardinals fans should pray that Hopkins doesn’t get suspended six games. Because I think it can be a brutal start to the season without him. But, there is a possibility they win to start the season without Hopkins. If Murray plays like an MVP and Brown explodes to start the season, not mention Arizona still has to have an amazing defense, then Arizona could start off 4-2 or even 5-1. But, considering they play Kansas City, Las Vegas and the Rams to start the season, it is going to be tough to see them succeed to start the season.
My prediction: Arizona starts off 3-3 and fights through a hard schedule with Hopkins to get 10-11 wins. But if they are all healthy, Arizona could easily make a deep playoff push!
Wiz Talk with Chase
Cool Sports Network