Cardinals offseason needs: Defensive line
With a new general manager and coaching staff, the Arizona Cardinals have a lot of work to do with the roster coming off a 4-13 season.
Virtually every position group has some level of need to be addressed.
Over the next few days in this offseason series, we will take a look at each position group, what the offseason outlook is, what questions they have what what level of need is there — critical, urgent or secondary.
Next up is the defensive line.
Listen to the latest from Cards Wire’s Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify.
Who is on the roster?
There are only four under contract for the coming season. Some were considered linebackers last season in the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme and will presumably be considered defensive ends this season.
Zach Allen, unrestricted free agent
Michael Dogbe, unrestricted free agent
Leki Fotu, signed through 2023
Trysten Hill, unrestricted free agent
Rashard Lawrence, signed through 2023
Jonathan Ledbetter, exclusive rights free agent
J.J. Watt, signed through 2023 (announced retirement)
Victor Dimukeje, signed through 2024
Cameron Thomas, signed through 2025
Questions and issues
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
The retirement of Watt was no surprise but leaves a gaping hole. Allen could price himself out of the Cardinals’ running in free agency, as there could be plenty of interest from other teams.
Moving forward, the Cardinals are likely shifting from a three-man front to a four-man front, which means the profile of what they want might change.
Cameron Thomas, a rookie last season, will likely shift back to defensive end, where he played his last year of college.
Allen could play inside or at end if he returns.
Lawrence has not been able to play a full season and Fotu is still just okay.
Offseason need: Critical
The Cardinals must address both the interior and the edge.
Re-signing Allen is a start, but to run Jonathan Gannon’s and Nick Rallis’ defense, they will need strong interior players. The players they have on the roster have thus far been only decent role players.
They need starters and role players.
Thomas’ development will be huge. If he can be a consistent starter that gets ti the quarterback, that solves one problem.
Can Dimukeje play end? Is there a place on the roster for him with this coaching staff?
This unit is likely going to look quite different in 2023.