Cardinals linebacker and special teamer Ezekiel Turner signed his one-year tender worth $2.133 million on Monday. Turner was a restricted free agent after three years in Arizona and was tendered on March 15, two days prior to the start of the league year. April 23 is the deadline for any restricted free agents to present an offer sheet to their team.
Turner led the team in snap-count percentage on special teams, playing 78.8 percent. He did not miss a game, and finished with a team-high 15 special-teams tackles. He also blocked two punts and caught a pass from punter Andy Lee on a fake for a first down in Week 15.
With this move, the Cardinals officially continue to round out their special-teams units. Fellow linebackers and special-teams staples from the 2020 season Dennis Gardeck, Kylie Fitts and Tanner Vallejo all re-signed with the Cardinals this offseason, as did safeties Chris Banjo and Charles Washington.
With Turner officially back on board, the only major changes to the special-teams units will be at kicker, with Matt Prater taking over for Zane Gonzalez, and gunner, as Trent Sherfield left in free agency for San Francisco after he did not receive a tender offer.
The Cardinals' special-teams coverage units, helmed by assistant coach Jeff Rodgers, were among the best in the league last year. On Football Outsiders, the Cardinals ranked third in kickoff coverage and 10th in punt coverage. On special teams DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Cardinals ranked 19th overall, but kicking and kick returning sank their overall numbers.
As the Cardinals roster has seen a myriad of changes, keeping one of its returning strengths mostly intact was evidently a priority. Now that the kicker spot has been upgraded, the biggest remaining questions are who takes over at gunner and who will be returning kicks in 2021. Perhaps someone who the Cardinals select in next week's NFL Draft will be an answer to those questions.