Three Free Agents Arizona Cardinals Could Target

Despite a solid rookie class and a couple of free agent depth pieces, the Arizona Cardinals could still use some free agent help.
Oct 29, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Markus Golden (44) takes the field before playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Markus Golden (44) takes the field before playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

ARIZONA--The Arizona Cardinals made a splash at the 2024 NFL draft, adding plenty of players who either have superstar potential or at least a solid scheme fit.

But a 4-13 team will always need a little more than their incoming rookies.

Although GM Monti Ossenfort has already made a couple of free agent signings, notably the likes of Sean Murphy-Bunting to support the secondary and Jonah Williams to boost the OL, there are still some needs that the Cardinals could address.

With a man like head coach Jonathan Gannon in charge, Arizona will, by all accounts, look to run a rotational philosophy at most positions, even some of the more prominent ones. Where that could really stand out is defensively, although the offense does have 1-2 glaring holes left to fill.

Here are three free agents that could make an automatic impact on the Arizona Cardinals and provide either a playmaking spark or positional solidity.

1: OLB Markus Golden

This isn't just fan service; the Cardinals need support on the edge, and with a D-Line philosophy that's shifted more towards big, beefy run stoppers (and that's great), some versatility and a veteran presence with a high motor would be a welcome piece to Gannon and Nick Rallis' rotational unit.

Golden hasn't really played up to his ceiling of impact with the Steelers, and didn't start any games last season, but he's also only missed two games since 2018, and both Ossenfort/Gannon value availability highly.

Golden's numbers aren't the flashiest, but considering the relative lack of athleticism on the DL and off the edge, adding a guy with shiftiness, versatility and QB-tracking speed could help the Cardinals. The 'junkyard dog' nickname is apt, and adding someone with his ferocity could help boost a still-weak and unproven Cardinals pass rush.

He graded out exceptionally well according to PFF last year, despite playing just over 200 snaps. An 86.5 overall grade and an 80.9 pass rush grade suggest the scrappy veteran still has it. Considering his contract for 2023 was just over $1.3 million, and he has a mutual love for the Cardinals organization, this could be a reunion that makes perfect sense.

2: CB Ahkello Witherspoon

No, I don't care how many corners they drafted or signed, the Cardinals need more. As stated before, Gannon loves to rotate, and even the idea of signing a veteran to help mentor or even compete with the younger guys could prove good for the secondary as a whole.

Witherspoon's play has certainly dipped a bit in recent years, and he hasn't looked like his 49ers self with the Steelers or Rams, but Gannon has a way with defensive backs, and despite a rough PFF grade, Witherspoon only allowed a 48.1% completion rate and a 75.7 passer rating when targeted.

He'll come relatively cheap, and although he's dealt with some injuries in the past, he started and played all 17 games for the Los Angeles Rams in 2023. He's familiar with the NFC West, playing for both the 49ers and Rams, and a brief off-season stint with the Seahawks.

Even if he doesn't end up becoming an impact starter, he could offer support as Gannon looks to finally make his mark in football's toughest division, and provide both depth and competition to a secondary that's just starting to grow up together.

3: OL Greg Van Roten

Although the Cardinals are trying to get younger and grow their own group of franchise studs, some veteran leadership, consistency and solidity are needed. I'm not fully convinced Evan Brown or Isaiah Adams will pan out, and the Cardinals would do well to land an interior OL that has both a history of solid play and low risk of injury.

Sure, Van Roten is 34, but he's missed just one game in the last three years, and he's graded out well for most of his career. The Cardinals flat out do not have a solution at left guard, and as much as Gannon likes to run rotations, that's not a strategy that tends to pan out with the big boys up front.

It will be hard to come by as big a mauler as Will Hernandez, but with Paris Johnson Jr. switching to left tackle, Arizona would be wise to add a solid veteran to tandem with the budding young stud.

It hasn't just been poor play that's plagued that position, especially in 2023, it's also been injury. Again, one of the best abilities is availability, and signing a cheap veteran like Van Roten can provide a sense of calm. Even if he doesn't play at an elite level, you know what you're getting snap-to-snap, even if he does simply serve as depth for now.

At worst, he's a veteran presence, at best he truly glues together an O-line that's only recently started to gel into a strength of this Cardinals team.


Published
Alex D'Agostino

ALEX D'AGOSTINO

Born and raised in the desert, Alex is a lifelong follower of Arizona sports. Alex also writes for Sports Illustrated/FanNation's Inside the Diamondbacks, and previously covered the Cardinals and Diamondbacks for FanSided. Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexDagAZ.