Fans may be focused on 2018, but front offices are already planning for 2019 and beyond. We looked at every NFL team and identified one player who could most help the team based on their current needs.
By mid-October, with playoff hopes dashed and division rivals looking much better than they rightfully should, fans turn to the offseason. Who can we get in the draft? Who is out there to sign to make this team better?
We wanted to have a primer ready to go for fans facing that eventuality (looking at you Jets fans). The draft has too much fluctuation, too many variables to predict this far in advance, but we know with much more certainty who is under contract and who isn’t. Players set to be free agents in 2019 likely won’t get contracts between now and then, making it easier to have a pool from which to draw.
With that in mind, we paired one free agent with every NFL team in an effort to make each team better. While cap situations can change and teams could cut guys between now and next spring to free up cap space, or sign players to long-term extensions that close down that space, we’ll operate based on the information we have.
Arizona Cardinals — Ronald Darby
Arizona set itself on a rebuilding course in the 2018 draft with Josh Rosen and Christian Kirk as long-term replacements for Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. No one should expect Hall of Fame play from any rookie; that would be unfair to the kid.
But between the rookies, free agent acquisition along the offensive line, and the return of David Johnson, the Cardinals shouldn’t be worried about where their offense will be in 2018.
With $34 million in cap space for 2019, they should be more worried about that defense. Arizona hasn’t found a suitable running mate for Patrick Peterson and a player like Ronald Darby would be just the kind of long, instinctive corner the Cardinals need. It’s going to be nearly impossible for the Eagles to manage a roster when they’re staring at a $50 million problem, already over the cap.
The Cardinals have some other players to pay, including Mike Iupati, the aforementioned Johnson, and Deone Bucannon, but should still have some room to bring in a defender like Darby to fortify this defense for new head coach Steve Wilks.