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Arizona Cardinals exit interview

Following a 12-4 regular season finish and an NFC West title, the Arizona Cardinals were taken to the woodshed by the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship game. With an offense that ranks in the top 5 and a defense in the top 10, the Cardinals are set to challenge the Seattle Seahawks on a yearly basis, but what does the future hold at the quarterback position?

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

Running back, wide receiver, secondary

Running Back: An early season injury to Andre Ellington led to the reintroduction of Chris Johnson as well as the emergence of rookie running back David Johnson. CJ2K is a free agent this offseason and the Cardinals have yet to show what they plan to do with him (re-sign or franchise tag), but the fact that they have the other Johnson and Ellington should ease any concerns if he does walk. None of the Cardinals running backs broke the 1,000 yard rushing mark or double-digit touchdowns, but the position should still be considered as a strength.

Wide Receiver: 2015 saw Larry Fitzgerald‘s career brought back to life, and the rest of the receiving corps did its part as well. Both Fitzgerald and John Brown eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards this season and Michael Floyd came close to that threshold this season. The one thing that the Cardinals do really well in the passing game is spread the ball around the field, and they have plenty of deep threats that can continue to produce at this point.

Secondary: After the injury suffered by Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona suffered minimally before being exposed against the Panthers. The goal is to sign Mathieu to an extension this offseason, and the Cardinals have one of the best secondaries in all the NFL, which should be crystal clear once again in 2016. Although they need to re-sign the likes of D.J. Swearinger and Rashad Johnson to keep that a reality moving forward.

Weaknesses:

Edge pass rush

Edge Pass Rush: The biggest concern this offseason is the Cardinals addressing their pass rush, specifically from the edge. There is a chance that a player like DL Robert Nkemdiche could fall to them in the draft and there are several players available in free agency that could help them increase their pressure on opposing backfields. On a side note, the team just signed Tristan Okpalaugo from the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League. Okpalaugo had 23 sacks during the past two seasons for the Argonauts.

Team Needs

Players to re-sign:

LB Dwight Freeney

DB Rashad Johnson

T Bobby Massie

DB Jerraud Powers

T Bradley Sowell

DB D.J. Swearinger

RB Chris Johnson

2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($19.5 million projected cap space):

OLB Von Miller

TE Jared Cook

LB James Laurinaitis

OT Russell Okung

DE Olivier Vernon

2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (No. 29 pick):

DL Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss)

DE Jihad Ward (Illinois)

OT Taylor Decker (Ohio State)

Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:

AFC East: Buffalo Bills | Miami Dolphins | New York Jets | New England Patriots

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens | Cleveland Browns | Cincinnati Bengals | Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Tennessee Titans | Jacksonville Jaguars | Indianapolis Colts | Houston Texans

AFC West: San Diego Chargers | Oakland Raiders | Kansas City Chiefs | Denver Broncos

NFC East: Dallas Cowboys | Philadelphia Eagles | New York Giants | Washington Redskins

NFC North: Detroit Lions | Chicago Bears | Minnesota Vikings | Green Bay Packers

NFC West: San Francisco 49ers | Los Angeles Rams

 

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