I will be doing a series of articles that will be taking a methodical team by team approach to next year’s possible free agents. I will be starting with the team that has the least amount of salary cap space and ending with the team with the most. I will try to give a brief description of as many of the possible free agents as I can. I will also be looking for players that might be salary cap cuts in order for their teams to make room to sign some of these possible free agents. Any information anyone else can contribute on these players would be very much appreciated.
The Arizona Cardinals projected to be $34,554,146 UNDER the cap (all salary info via Over The Cap) for 2017 and with 40 players under contract.
(EastBayNinerFan has the combined total of the salary cap surplus carry over from 2016 and the cap space for 2017 as $40,512,492). That might seem like a lot until you look at the players they need to sign.
Dollar figures listed are player’s 2016 cap hits.
34DE Calais Campbell - $15,250,000
Calais Campbell is 30 years old and was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2008 draft. Campbell has 46 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles, six passes defended and one interception this season. He has 54.5 sacks in the last eight years. PFF has him rated as the second best interior defender this season.
RG Evan Mathis - $4,000,069
Evan Mathis is 35 years old and was originally drafted by the Panthers in the third round of the 2005 draft. Mathis signed a one year deal with the Cardinals earlier this year after spending the previous season with the Broncos. He sustained an ankle injury against the 49ers in October and was placed on injured reserve. He has been one of the best guards in the league over the last eight seasons.
TE Jermaine Gresham - $3,468,750
Jermaine Gresham in 28 years old and was originally picked by the Bengals in the first round of the 2010 draft. The Cardinals signed him in July of 2015. Gresham has 35 receptions for 351 yards and two touchdowns this season.
34OLB Chandler Jones - $7,799,000
Chandler Jones is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the Patriots in the first round of the 2012 draft. Jones has 44 tackles, eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two passes defended this season. This is the one we are all drooling over. I really think our chances of getting him are between slim and none but I will keep hoping we get him or Perry. Why don’t we just get both?
34DE Frostee Rucker - $1,253,125
Frostee Rucker is 33 years old and was originally drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 2006 draft. Rucker signed with the Cardinals in March of 2013 after he was released by the Browns. He has 13 tackles and one pass defended this season.
S DJ Swearinger - $1,671,000
DJ Swearinger is 25 years old and was originally picked by the Texans in the second round of the 2013 draft. Swearinger was signed by the Cardinals in December of 2015 after he was placed on waivers by the Bucs. He has 54 tackles, seven passes defended, three interceptions, and one sack this season. His best two seasons so far were in 2013 and 2014 with the Texans so this season is not a fluke. PFF has him rated as one of the 25 best safeties this season.
S Tony Jefferson - $1,671,000
Tony Jefferson is 24 years old and was picked up by the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2013. Jefferson has 96 tackles, five passes defended, two sacks and two forced fumbles this season which is not so different from the numbers he has had in the last two seasons. PFF has him rated as the 5th best safety in the NFL.
RB Chris Johnson - $1,500,000
Chris Johnson is 31 years old and was originally signed by the Titans in the first round of the 2008 draft. The Cardinals signed him in August of 2015. Johnson has 25 carries for 95 yards this season.
ILB Kevin Minter - $1,396,913
Kevin Minter is 26 and was drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2013 draft. Minter has 73 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two passes defended this season and similar numbers in 2015. PFF has him listed as the 29th best ILB this season, not too far below the 49ers Gerald Hodges, who is listed as the 24th best ILB in the NFL this season.
CB Mike Jenkins - $600,000
Mike Jenkins is 31 years old and was originally drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2008 draft. Jenkins was signed by the Cardinals in July of this year before suffering an ACL tear and being lost for the season.
C AQ Shipley - $835,000
AQ Shipley is 30 and was originally drafted by the Steelers in the seventh round of the 2009 draft. Shipley signed with the Cardinals in March of 2015. PFF has Shipley rated as the 15th best center in the NFL this season.
WR Jeremy Ross - $105,882
Jeremy Ross is 28 years old and was originally picked up by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Ross was signed by the Cardinals after being released by the Jets earlier this month. Ross has caught nine passes in the last couple of years combined.
LG Taylor Boggs - $357,353
Taylor Boggs is 29 years old and was originally picked up by the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Boggs was re-signed by the Cardinals in November after being cut by them in September. It doesn’t seem like there is much of a market for him.
ILB Sio Moore $238,235
Sio Moore is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the Raiders in the third round of the 2013 draft. Moore was signed by the Cardinals in November. This is his third team this year but, amazing enough, he still has 44 tackles this season.
34OLB Alex Okafor – 1,789,607
Alex Okafor is 25 years old and was drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Okafor has only 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season but it has been hard for him to get playing time behind Jones and Golden. He had eight sacks in 2014. Could he be better than anything we have?
RG Earl Watford - $783,716
Earl Watford is 26 years old and was drafted by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. He has been terrible in the few snaps he has had this season.
RB Stepfan Taylor - $725,125
Stepfan Taylor is 25 years old and was drafted by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Taylor has four carries for 12 yards this season.
RB Andre Ellington - $1,696,966
Andre Ellington is 27 years old and was drafted by the Cardinals in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Ellington has 27 carries for 78 yards this season. He is underused in Arizona and I would not mind having him on the 49ers.
CB Marcus Cooper - $675,000
Marcus Cooper is 26 years old and was originally drafted by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. Cooper has 66 tackles, 9 passes defended and 4 interceptions this season. PFF has him rated as the 115th best cornerback in the NFL. Way below Keith Reaser.