The Cardinals were one of the busiest teams in the NFL during the free-agency period. They brought in 16 new faces, and locked down quite a few more familiar faces who were already on the roster.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King called the Carson Palmer deal a “baptism by fire” for general manager Steve Keim. King praised the Cardinals for the move, saying they got Palmer basically for nothing, which in actuality they did.
Along with the signings and the re-signings, the team cut eight players, so Keim and head coach Bruce Arians were busy putting their personal touches on their team.
It was an unusually busy period for the Cardinals, one which you wouldn’t think they’d duplicate next year or the year after that if they can keep a good amount of the core team intact after this season.
Keim believes that, in the future, the Cardinals will become more focused on building the team through the draft, and less through free agency.
“I do,” Keim said. “Obviously this was a unique year for us and unique circumstances, but we’ve got the roster at least to a point where Bruce and I feel more comfortable with it.”
“Moving forward, once we’re able to put our stamp on the draft this year and not only next year, I think we’ll see a cycle where we’re a little more comfortable with maybe a player or two here [and] there in free agency and continuing to build this team universally through the draft,” Keim said.
The salary cap, as Arians noted, is another big factor that weighs heavily in how a team can be built.
In 2010, the NFL had no salary cap, so teams like the Cowboys, Saints, Raiders and Redskins spent like crazy that year, and two of those teams – Dallas and Washington – paid dearly for that spending in the form of huge cap space penalties.
There’s been no uncapped years in the NFL since, so teams have to spend their money wisely, which isn’t easy as you can imagine when you’re dealing with so many different players and their varying contracts.
“That has added a whole new dimension to how you build your football team,” Arians said.
Thankfully, the Cardinals have been smart with their spending, even with all the new players who are on board. They’ve had no extravagant contracts come on the books, which should set them up well when it’s time to negotiate seven more rookie contracts after the NFL Draft.