Losing Kurt Warner hurt. Saying goodbye to Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, and Karlos Dansby only made it worse. The Cardinals have a lot to fix on their roster, and the draft only started the process.
Here’s our to-do list for the Cardinals after the lockout ends.
1. Find a starting quarterback.
Taking cornerback Patrick Peterson No. 5 overall guaranteed that the Cardinals would need to find their starter in free agency or through a trade. The Cardinals are the favorites to land Kevin Kolb, but they could play Kyle Orton’s availability against Philly for leverage.
Marc Bulger, Matt Hasselbeck, and even Carson Palmer can’t be completely ruled out as possibilities. This is a more of a buyer’s market than you think; the Cardinals will be able to find a significant upgrade. John Skelton can be the team’s backup.
2. Drop Joey Porter.
There’s just no way he’s going to be worth $5.75 million and his contract is easy to dump.
Fellow starter Clark Haggans is also turning 34; the Cardinals need to get younger at outside linebacker. Letting youngsters O’Brien Schofield, Will Davis and rookie Sam Acho play makes more sense than keeping Porter. Arizona could add cheaper veteran depth at the position.
3. Find solutions on the offensive line.
Behind quarterback, this was their biggest need entering the draft. It wasn’t addressed at all. Center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Deuce Lutui are unsigned. Alan Faneca retired. Right tackle Brandon Keith struggled last year, and left tackle Levi Brown was probably worse.
This is going to be a major challenge without easy solutions. They will have to spend some money here.
4. Bring back Steve Breaston.
We get the sense the Cardinals will not make bringing Breaston back a priority, but we think they should because he’s an underrated performer that is a safer bet than Early Doucet and Andre Roberts. Still, we’d understand letting Breaston go if he gets a huge deal elsewhere.
5. Get their minds right.
The biggest boost Arizona can get in 2011 is from their veterans picking up their play. Beanie Wells needs to stay healthy to team with Ryan Williams in a promising backfield. Darnell Dockett can be a bigger difference maker. Adrian Wilson should play better now that he’s healthy. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie needs to bounce back from an awful season.
Something happened to this team last year. Perhaps they caved when they realized they didn’t have a quarterback. Ken Whisenhunt needs to turn that mindset around in training camp or risk becoming the same old Cardinals again.