Biggest Questions Heading Into Cardinals Training Camp
Training Camps are set to open in just a few weeks across the NFL and it is time to take a look at the biggest question marks heading into Cardinals camp.
The Big Three
The Quarterback Dilemma:
Well, maybe it is not a dilemma. The Cardinals have an interesting quarterback room heading into training camp. During the offseason, the team signed Sam Bradford to a one-year, $20-million dollar deal. Going into camp, you’d have to think that the starting quarterback position is his to lose. When healthy, Bradford is a more than serviceable starting quarterback, but unfortunately, he has had trouble staying on the field throughout his career. If his knees hold up this year, he should hold off Josh Rosen who is the future of the franchise. The one thing that will help Bradford out immensely is a healthy David Johnson behind him. Sam Bradford might not be the sexy pick for the fan base especially when the rookie QB is getting rave reviews from All-Pro Patrick Peterson, but he could be the steady consistent presence this team needs.
Behind Bradford is the aforementioned Rosen, who was drafted 10th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of UCLA. Experts deemed Rosen the most pro-ready quarterback in his class, and early reports out of Cardinals camp is that he has wowed teammates with his poise. Patrick Peterson appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio said, “I believe we finally found us one.”
If things go as planned, Rosen will have to start out learning behind Bradford to start out the season, but it will not be too long before he is behind center. Rosen, from the moment he was drafted, has had a chip on his shoulder, and he is motivated to prove the naysayers wrong. Like Bradford, David Johnson helps any quarterback, especially a rookie, but outside of Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, there are not many notable offensive skill players. Rosen will be a good one, but he may have to wait for now.
Mike Glennon was also signed during the offseason, but he is expected to be the third quarterback on the depth chart. The only way Glennon becomes the backup to Sam Bradford is if Rosen shows he truly is not ready to be the number two and potentially push Bradford to start.
Larry Fitz Is A Future Hall Of Famer But Then Who Else?
If players didn’t have to wait to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, Fitzgerald could just walk right to Canton when he retires. Heading into his 15th season, Fitzgerald remains as steady and consistent as ever, but outside of number 11, there are a lot of question marks.
Arizona signed Brice Butler from the Dallas Cowboys. Butler, a seventh-round pick in 2013 out of San Diego State, has only 73 receptions for his career but has shown flashes when given an opportunity. Many Dallas fans in recent years have pounded the table for more Brice Butler, but he for one reason or another could never get consistent playing time. He has never had more than 21 receptions in a season and that was during the 2014 season with the Oakland Raiders. Butler finally has his shot to show he belongs with the Cardinals as he has a direct path to start opposite of Larry Fitzgerald.
The Cardinals did add some talent to the group via the draft with the addition of Christian Kirk out of Texas A&M in the second round. Kirk could have gone in the first round but slipped to the second round and the Cardinals scooped him up. He also plays with a chip on his shoulder and who better to learn from than the future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald.
J.J. Nelson is heading into his fourth season and can still fly. J.J. would like to become a much more complete receiver as opposed to just a guy who can run by defenders. This season is a really crucial one for Nelson, and it will be interesting to see if he has, in fact, become a complete receiver.
There is some talent outside of Larry Fitzgerald, but still a lot of question marks. If you are a Cardinals fan, you ought to watch the receiver battle opposite of Fitzgerald very closely this summer.
Is Budda Baker Ready To Replace The Honey Badger?
The Cardinals decided to release Tyrann Mathieu who signed a one year deal with the Houston Texans. Budda Baker was drafted last year in the second round with some similar qualities to the Honey Badger. Mathieu has had some injury concerns, but there was also some financial concerns on the Cardinals end that also led to his release. Baker is probably the reason the organization felt ok letting go of the former 3rd round pick out of LSU that they took a chance on. Mathieu is a great player and it won’t be easy to replace him, but Baker sure does check a lot of the boxes.
Baker is a do it all kind of safety. He can line up in the box, play some FS, can play in the slot, and if you need him to play linebacker he could probably do that as well. Sound familiar?
The Cardinals defense is a very talented group and with defensive-minded rookie head coach Steve Wilks manning the helm, it will be interesting to see how this group plays. I believe a big key to the defense’s success is whether or not Baker is ready for a more full-time role, and many believe that he is.
Cardinal’s training camp is just two weeks away. The players will report on July 27th.