Although none of the eight players the Cardinals signed last week were huge names, they don’t have to be.
At this point, if the majority of them, if not all of them, can contribute and make an impact on the team, then the moves look smart, and more importantly, that will strengthen and better the team.
Let’s start with Drew Stanton.
Now that Kevin Kolb and his huge contract are gone, Stanton’s chances for competing and becoming the Cardinals starting quarterback have jumped exponentially with one less person to fight with.
Neither John Skelton, nor Ryan Lindley nor Brian Hoyer (in his limited time with the team) have distanced them as the true No. 1 at quarterback, which should give Stanton that much more motivation to run for the starting position.
Rashard Mendenhall had three very good years with the Steelers before an ACL injury wrecked the end of his 2011 season and a great portion of his 2012 season.
The Cardinals were wise to sign him to just a one-year deal, in order to insure themselves in the event that Mendenhall doesn’t show decently this coming season.
Head coach Bruce Arians knows Mendenhall and his capabilities, from their days together in Pittsburgh. If there’s a person that can squeeze everything he can out of Mendenhall, it’s Arians.
Yeremiah Bell has been a starter at safety for the past five years with the Dolphins and Jets. So the Cardinals lost two starting safeties in Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes, but they got one back in Bell, at a much cheaper rate.
In four of those five years of starting, Bell had well over 100 tackles, so the Cardinals have a player who’s not afraid to get his grind on.
Jerraud Powers comes over from Indianapolis, in sort of a lateral move, with former Cardinal cornerback Greg Toler jetting over to the Colts.
Powers – stop me if you’ve heard this before – played under Arians last year in Indy, so this move makes sense because of their familiarity with each other, plus for the fact that Powers started 42 games over the past three seasons, which should give the Cardinals secondary a good look with another player used to battle like Patrick Peterson, who Powers will most likely start opposite.
Antoine Cason was another hot prospect in free agency, and the Cardinals locked him in for one-year, giving even more strength to a once depleted secondary.
Cason is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and loves to press receivers all over the field, which should make defensive coordinator Todd Bowles very happy.
Lorenzo Alexander is a special teams monster. He had 19 solo tackles on special teams last season, which was tops in the league.
You think Coach Bowles is happy with Cason? Cardinals special teams coordinator Amos Jones will be doing back flips if Alexander can duplicate that feat this season.
There’s also a possibility that Alexander could play quite a bit at the outside linebacker spot, which is another position the Cardinals are severely in need of help at.
If all that works out and Alexander can be all that for Arizona, that’s awesome, but working for the Redskins for one season, I can tell you that Alexander is one of THE best guys you can deal with inside and outside of the locker room.
He’ll galvanize that locker room.
If the Cardinals are lacking in depth at outside linebacker, they are equally lacking at inside linebacker. They addressed that with the pickup of former Vikings inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley.
Brinkley had a career high 117 tackles last season, along with two sacks and three forced fumbles. He’ll most likely start alongside Daryl Washington, depending on what happens with Paris Lenon, who’s a free agent.
Calais Campbell, Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett missed a lot of time last year due to various injuries, which challenged Arizona’s depth on the defensive line.
Former Raider defensive end Matt Shaughnessy comes over to give more stability to the line.
Shaughnessy started all 16 games for Oakland last season. He had 42 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Shaughnessy is known as being one of the best run stoppers in the NFL. The Cardinals are hoping he can come over and assist them in stopping the run.
Last season, Arizona was ranked 28th in the league in yards allowed per game with 137.
You can’t cure all your ills in free agency if you’re the Cardinals, but you can sure make a dent, which the team definitely did.
Knowing Coach Arians, general manager Steve Keim and team president Michael Bidwill, they’re nowhere near done with their overhaul.