After the retirement of Carson Palmer no one doubted a veteran would be added by the Arizona Cardinals, but it came as a slight surprise to see both Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon signed as free agency officially opened. The addition of the pair won’t impeded a rookie selection, though it remains debatable as to how early the Cards will spend a pick on the position.
The preliminary belief, barring some major change, is Bradford will enter the summer as the starting quarterback. Few people will doubt his talent or ability to command an offense, but the obvious problem has been his utter inability to remain on the field. It seems inevitable the Cardinals will start Glennon (or a rookie) at some point in the year.
In 2017, Bradford authored an explosive Week 1 performance for the Minnesota Vikings, finishing with 346 yards and a trio of scores against the New Orleans Saints. Recurring swelling in his surgically repaired knee would keep him on ice for all but only brief attempt at a return in Week 5. Bradford started 15 games for the Vikes in 2016 and performed remarkably well, all things considered, after joining the team on the verge of the season.
Entering an age-31 season, there is still plenty of sand in the hourglass, provided the litany of surgeries haven’t taken too large of a toll on Bradford’s body. The last time he finished a 16-game slate was his third year as a pro in 2012, which was just the second time he accomplished such a “monumental feat.”
Giving Bradford the benefit of the doubt (for some reason or another), he has one of history’s best receivers available in Larry Fitzgerald. Third-year running back David Johnson should rebound nicely following an injury-shortened sophomore season. Arizona’s cast of receivers, aside from Fitz, may look considerably different. Second-year wideout Chad Williams should be given every opportunity to compete for a starting job. John Brown is now a Baltimore Raven, and Jaron Brown is feeling out the market. JJ Nelson should contribute as a downfield asset. Expect the Cardinals to target a wide receiver in the first half of the draft and possibly reach out in free agency to someone in free agency.
Arizona hired Mike McCoy to call plays for Steve Wilks’ new regime. The veteran coach has managed to mold offenses to fit his personnel in each of his stops, notable shifting from a spread-option system with Tim Tebow to a more conventional, vertical offense with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Only twice in the last five seasons of McCoy’s play-calling has one of his teams thrown more than 600 passes ( 2013 and 2015). In two of those seasons, his offenses topped 400 team carries (2013 and ’17).
Going on the assumption Bradford will miss time, his ceiling is capped in the realm of being a backup. Even in healthy seasons, the former No. 1 draft pick wasn’t a fantasy star by any stretch. He has matchup utility when everything is clicking properly, but we all know a blown gasket could come on any play. Glennon doesn’t warrant fantasy consideration at this time.
Since no one is banking on Bradford to stay upright, perhaps the more imperative concern is what his play or absence will do to Fitzgerald. In a nutshell, probably nothing of consequence. Fitz has made a career of being quarterback-proof and shouldn’t regress due to anything other than Father Time finally having his way.
Look for the offense to orbit the running game as long as Johnson is healthy. The offensive line should return most of its key players. DJ is a surefire RB1 and worthy of as high as a top-five pick in most setups.
Any other receiving option should be considered a flier. The tight end position under McCoy has been involved enough for fantasy purposes, just to varying degrees based on personnel talent. Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones flashed in a few games last season and could emerge as a sleeper this summer with a strong camp. The same could be argued for Williams in his second year as a pro wideout.