The Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals won’t kick off until September 25th, but that’s not going to stop us from taking a look at what Arizona did this offseason to reload. For some help we welcomed one of the best-named blogs on the SB Nation network, Revenge of the Birds.
Notable free agent additions: OG Evan Mathis and SS Tyvon Branch
Notable free agent departures: OT Bobby Massive and CB Jerraud Powers
Trades: Traded OG Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round pick for DE Chandler Jones
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
1st round DT Robert Nkemdiche - May not start in 2016, but is expected to be part of a much-improved pass rush for the Cardinals.
The rest of the class is promising down the line, but barring injury, CB Brandon Williams (3rd round), C Evan Boehm (4th round), S Marqui Christian and OT Cole Toner (5th round) and CB Harlan Miller (6th round) will be special teams contributors and valuable depth.
Biggest offseason addition: Chandler Jones and Robert Nkemdiche. The biggest weakness on the Cardinals’ defense was the inability to rush the passer. They spent their first two 2016 draft picks addressing the issue. Jones is a proven nine-sack-a-year player, Nkemdiche can be a dominant interior rusher early, and it should improve the Cardinals biggest weakness.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: There are three; the growth of DJ Humphries at right tackle, how much does Evan Mathis have left in the tank at RG, and can AQ Shipley man the center position for the year. The Arizona Cardinals have an offense loaded with talent, but the three question marks on the offensive line can throw a wrench in that plan.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: How does the new Arizona Cardinals secondary hold up? Justin Bethel is now cornerback-two, Tyrann Mathieu may not be back in September, so who assumes the role of free safety and nickel cornerback? The only guarantee for the opener is Patrick Peterson - even Tony Jefferson is a battle for the starting job - everyone else is an unknown or returning from injury.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Tyrann Mathieu had a second ACL tear, will he be able to get back to being the most versatile defender in the NFL?
The Bills and Cardinals square off in Buffalo on Sunday, September 25th with the Bills getting three extra days to prepare following their Thursday Night Football matchup the week before.