The Arizona Cardinals will have to make some final decisions about their team for 2022 as they and every other team in the NFL must cut down their rosters to 53 players by Tuesday afternoon.
Most of the players who will make the team are set. However, the back end of the roster still has spots available and, especially with the preseason finale Saturday, there are a few players who could surprise and make the team.
Below are a few players who aren’t expected to make the team but possibly could, making them the Cardinals’ roster sleepers.
WR JaVonta Payton
Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Players who seemingly sneak onto the roster are often special teams standouts. We haven’t heard much about Payton but head coach Kliff Kingsbury mentioned this past week that Payton had done a nice job on special teams. If the Cardinals keep six receivers, perhaps he lands the job to play special teams.
DL Antwaun Woods
The Cardinals do not have a lot of experience on the defensive line. J.J. Watt is the exception, but the four other players in the room who are locks for the roster were all drafted by the Cardinals in 2019 or 2020. Jonathan Ledbetter, a possibility to win the last spot, was also drafted in 2019.
Woods is the only guy with significant starting experience outside of Watt. He started 32 games between 2018-2020.
We have said on this site that the Cardinals could pick up a veteran defensive tackle who can play nose tackle. Woods fits the bill.
OLB Jesse Luketa
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Luketa, one of three edge defenders drafted by the Cardinals this year, is stuck in a numbers game, but general manager Steve Keim is a huge fan of Luketa. Every team needs a player like him in the locker room and he plays with a motor and ferocity that will be unmatched. He is raw as an edge defender but has shown flashes of special teams impact. When he hits people, it hurts and they stop. His special teams play could get him on the final roster.
ILB Chandler Wooten
Joe Rondone-Arizona Republic
Wooten had an interception in the Cardinals’ preseason loss against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend and has impressed. The inside linebacker room has scrappy journeymen at the back of the roster in Joe Walker and Ben Niemann. Wooten shouldn’t be counted out, especially if they like his upside as a defender.
WR Victor Bolden
Of the players on this list, he feels like the least likely because his niche would be in the return game, which Greg Dortch has covered. But he does offer upside as a returner.
CB Jace Whittaker
Whittaker has been on the team the last two years, although almost always on the practice squad. He has been elevated to play special teams and is someone the coaches trust to know his assignments on defense both on the boundary and in the slot.
And with a very uncertain cornerback room, no one should be surprised if he ends up at the back of the roster.