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Jul 05, 2022

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Cardinals Roster Named 2nd-Worst in NFC West

Cardinals Roster Named 2nd-Worst in NFC West

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Getty Cardinals QB Kyler Murray walks off the field in Los Angeles.

The Arizona Cardinals are coming off an 11-6 season and still have All-Pro QB1 Kyler Murrary under center. However, Pro Football Focus has ranked the NFL’s rosters and the Cardinals come in 23rd overall, second-worst in the NFC West.

PFF’s foundation for the ranking rest of unproved depth, the DeAndre Hopkins suspension, and Murray’s playoff debut.

Players with PFF grades over 80-100 are good to great, 70-79.9 marks the league average and scores 69 or lower are considered below average. A grade below 60 suggests practice squad talents. Most of the Arizona roster falls well short of being irreplaceable on the PFF scale.

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Kyler Keeping Cards Competitive

The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner had an MVP-level first half of the 2021 season but Kliff Kingsbury’s squad faded down the stretch. Murray (PFF Grade: 82.9) had to carry a Cardinals team lacking depth behind Rodney Hudson, J.J. Watt, and DeAndre Hopkins once they went on the Injured List. Still, he finished with 3787 yards, 24 touchdowns, and just 10 interceptions.

The ‘Kyler and Kliff’ duo got off to a scorching 7-1 start. The pairing had their first shot at a title since linking up in college but the Super Bowl run ended in shambles.

“Losing is one thing, but when you don’t even make it competitive is another,” Murray said after his playoff debut.

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The Wild Card round loss exposed an incomplete squad, one that will be missing Hopkins to start the season. Murray’s favorite target must serve a six-game suspension because he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The front office added WR Hollywood Brown (68.6) and G Will Hernandez (55.9) to shore up the offensive line and give Murray another option out wide.

RB James Connor (81.9) is the second-highest ranked offensive player on the roster per PFF but he will have to run behind five of the lowest-ranked linemen. Murray will need TE Maxx Williams (77.9), TE Zach Ertz (65.5), and WR A.J. Green (67.8) to create early separation to get the ball out quickly. If they cannot, Murray might not make it through the season.

Defending the Red Sea

DL J.J. Watt (78.6) will lead a defense looking to make amends for the 34-11 NFC Wild Card loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.

Arizona’s issues lie on the perimeter though. DL Markus Golden (75.2) and Devon Kennard (77.0) will free up Watt to roam. Unfortunately for the coaching staff, a soft middle and a lack of pressure on the perimeter points to more shootouts than shutouts in the immediate future.

2021 first-round pick LB Zaven Collins (66.5) needs a bounce-back year to avoid the ‘bust’ label. The Tulsa alum had only 25 tackles, 1 pressure, and 1 hurry all year while allowing 8 completions on 14 targets when dropping back into coverage. The hope is the game is slowing down and Collins will put it all together in Year 3.

Since the beginning of PFF's collegiate database (2008), no LB with at least 48 coverage snaps has ever earned a higher season coverage grade than #AZCardinals rookie Zaven Collins' 93.0 in 2020. #RedSea

— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) May 16, 2021

LB Isaiah Simmons (49.7), 2020’s 8th overall selection, showed limited promise as a rookie but regressed last season. The former Clemson star was opportunistic, forcing four fumbles and snagging one interception. The Cardinals will need unproven players to step up and create their own luck to stay in the playoff race.

Cornerbacks Marco Wilson (48.6), Antonio Hamilton (65.4), and Byron Murphy Jr. (58.5) will be under the spotlight all season. Their Week 1 test is Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Then they have to find a way to stop Matthew Stafford twice and go to visit old rival Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos before facing Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A disappointing season might mean a split between Kyler and Kliff. Murray wants a new contract and ownership wants Kingsbury to reach some more impressive playoff milestones. Even if this team has more talent than being given credit, a losing record would not be a surprise facing this schedule.

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Proposed Bulls Trade Brings Back Demolition Man & Son of Former All-Star

Getty Kenyon Martin Jr.

At some point, you’d have to think the Chicago Bulls will trade Coby White.

The team has an abundance of guards with Lonzo Ball (if healthy), Zach LaVine, Goran Dragic, Ayo Dosunmu, and Alex Caruso.

If Chicago is healthy (a big if), there just isn’t a ton of minutes available for White. The 22-year-old is too talented and valuable for the Bulls not to get something back for him. Early attempts to move White didn’t render attractive offers. Perhaps the Bulls could find a fit for him on a young team looking to clear as much salary as possible.

White can be a free agent after this season, though his deal has a team option following the 2022-23 campaign. The Houston Rockets might be the right fit for such a deal. Here is a proposed deal that works financially and makes sense for both teams.

  • Bulls Get: Kenyon Martin Jr., David Nwaba, and a 2024 second-round pick
  • Rockets Get: Coby White and second a 2025 second-round pick
What’s In it For the Bulls?

Martin would be the biggest potential get for the Bulls. The 21-year-old son of former NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin is a budding stretch-4 with impressive athleticism and a developing three-point shot.

Martin recently asked to be traded after the Rockets drafted Smith as he may see himself in a situation similar to White in Chicago. In Martin’s second NBA season, he played in 79 games (2 starts) he averaged 8.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, and made just under 36% of his threes. Martin is a little smallish for the 4 spot at 6-foot-6, but that appears to be the style Chicago wants to go after for the power forward position.

There’s a chance Martin could be a solid fit to back up Patrick Williams. As of now, the Bulls don’t have a strong candidate to back up Williams. Derrick Jones (6-foot-5) is even smaller than Martin, and Javonte Green is even shorter at 6-foot-4.

Nwaba is a throw-in to make things work financially, but the ever-scrappy was a bit of a fan favorite during his first stint with the Bulls. He was affectionately referred to as “Demolition Man” by Bulls announcer Stacey King.

David Nwaba with his first Bulls Double Double!David Nwaba scores 15 points and grabs 10 rebounds in 23 minutes of action, as the Bulls beat the Hawks on 10.26.17. Tune in to BullsTV for more exciting highlights, interviews, and original content. Only on

The 29-year-old’ athleticism and strength allow him to defend and play bigger than his 6-foot-5 frame. Nwaba doesn’t back down from anyone, and he had arguably the best season of his career with the Bulls during the 2017-18 season. Nwaba played 70 games that year with 21 starts, averaging 7.9 points per contest.

If he could provide some minutes at either forward spot, toughness, and veteran leadership, Nwaba could be an excellent addition to the Bulls’ bench.

Both Martin and Nwaba are set to be free agents after the 2023-24 season.

What’s In It For The Rockets?

The Rockets have an extremely young core with Jabari Smith, Jalen Green, and perhaps Kevin Porter Jr. Like the Bulls, the Rockets have a lot of guards, but White would be arguably the most accomplished of the bunch. Still, he figures to be in a reserve role on this team.

The Rockets want to clear as much cap space as possible as they continue to rebuild. White coming off the books at the end of the season should be attractive to the Rockets. Houston could shed the additional salary owed to Martin (partially guaranteed) to Martin and Nwaba while getting a motivated White for a season without disturbing their rebuilding plans.

Houston could sign and trade White if he has a strong season to procure even more assets from the deal once everything is said and done.

This trade may not light the lamp for Bulls fans today, but it is the kind of realistic trade that could help fill out the roster while allowing Chicago to add a youthful, athletic player with some upside like Martin.

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