The Arizona Cardinals need an offensive tackle.
Levi Brown originally manned the left tackle spot last season. Unfortunately, a disastrous performance against St. Louis' Robert Quinn in the regular season opener and an equally embarrassing performance against the Saints two weeks later, forced the Cardinals to trade Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Arizona promoted Bradley Sowell as the starting left tackle for the rest of the season, but he wasn't much better. According to Pro Football Focus, Sowell finished with a grade of -38.4 and a pass blocking score of -26.9 -- allowing seven sacks, 12 hits and 40 hurries. He ranked as the league's worst offensive tackle (both left and right) and worst pass blocker.
Yes. The Arizona Cardinals need an offensive tackle.
For the second consecutive year, the Cardinals are building a free agency board, similar to a draft board. Last year they signed seven of their top nine targets in free agency, according to the team's site.
That board is more complicated than just listing the top talent on the market. It takes into account positions of need, of course, in addition to estimated salaries of what these players might want, what they should be worth when it comes to metrics, and what the Cards would be willing to offer. It delivers a blueprint so the Cards are prepared when free agency begins.
As the Cardinals proved last season, they have numbers in mind for all their offers. It doesn’t sound like Keim likes to do a ton of negotiating. Last season, for many free agents early in the process, the Cardinals told visiting players their offer could very well be off the table if they left without signing. That proved fruitful. The Cards didn’t sign everyone they went after last season, but that’s where the board helps.
Enter Anthony Collins; Cincinnati's proven offensive tackle, entering free agency as an unrestricted free agent who didn't allow a quarterback sack all season. Collins isn't expected to demand franchise-level cash, but starter money is a given -- maybe something in the neighborhood of $5 million/season or more, and he clearly fills a need for Arizona. Additionally there's familiarity from their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer, who played three seasons with Collins in Cincinnati.
Other free agent left tackles includes Baltimore's Eugene Monroe, Kansas City's Branden Albert, and Carolina's Jordan Gross.
Despite expectations that Cincinnati may allow Collins to hit free agency, they're going to make an effort to re-sign him. Based on Arizona's situation at left tackle, he figures to be one of their free agent targets as well.