The one thing missing from the Arizona Cardinals defensive line is a dominant presence along the interior. Fortunately, general manager Steve Keim still has the opportunity to address the problem via free agency.
There are more than a few options still left on the veteran market more than capable of anchoring Arizona’s defensive front. Yet, only one of those options is a three-time All-Pro.
He’s the perfect target for the Cards, and the good news is the player wants to continue his career but will shun a return to the team he suited up for last season.
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Super Bowl-Winning DT the Missing Piece for Cardinals
Nadamukong Suh is still available, but the 35-year-old took a step closer to resolving his immediate future on Monday. Suh, who has played the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told ESPN2’s NFL Live “It looks like the Bucs are out of the picture,” per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who confirmed Suh isn’t ready to retire:
The Cardinals should come calling for a monster defensive tackle who won Super Bowl LV after the 2020 season. Suh is what’s missing for the Cards up front, an immovable and highly disruptive force in the middle.
J.J. Watt can still make plays on the outside, provided the 33-year-old can stay healthy. Meanwhile, Zach Allen “is healthier than he’s been in a while,” according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.
Allen and Watt need somebody who can play over center and be a magnet for double teams on the inside. That’s the only way Watt and edge-rushers Markus Golden and rookies Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders will get the one-on-one matchups they need to replace Chandler Jones’ production in the passing game.
Franchise sack leader Jones left to join the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency, and the Silver and Black also hold some lure for Suh. The Raiders aren’t the only team interested, so Keim will have to act fast if the Cardinals are going to win the race for a five-time Pro-Bowler.
Suh Has Growing Number of Suitors
If he has his choice, Suh will join Jones in Vegas:
The Raiders could view Suh as the missing piece of a truly loaded defensive front. Jones and fellow end Maxx Crosby can thrive on the edges, but Suh would be the difference-maker at the heart of the trenches.
It’s a similar story for the Minnesota Vikings, who have spoken with Suh several times, according to USA Today’s Tyler Dragon:
Like the Raiders, the Vikings have a pair of playmakers on the edge, in the form of Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Unlike the Cardinals, the Vikes also have some beef along the interior, thanks to Harrison Phillips and Dalvin Tomlinson, both of whom tip the scales at 300-plus pounds.
Big men in the middle are crucial for the type of multiple 3-4 defense the Vikings are transitioning toward and the Cardinals already run. That’s why Suh would be a good fit in Arizona.
This isn’t the first time Suh’s name has been mentioned in connection with the Cardinals. Back in May, Alex Sutton of Cards Wire named Suh as a potential fit during the second wave of free agency.
Sutton noted how Suh played for Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2016. Joseph should exploit the relationship to reunite with an elite nose tackle who was still durable enough to start every game during his 12th season in 2021.
More than merely being a constant presence on the field, Suh still impacted both phases of offenses. He remained a force against the run, like for this impressive stop against the Philadelphia Eagles, per Ben Fennell of CBS Sports:
Suh was also still productive in the backfield, logging six sacks and seven tackles for loss, according to Pro Football Reference. To put those numbers into context, no Cardinals defensive lineman managed more than Allen’s four sacks and five TFLs last season.
Putting Suh on the same front as Watt would give Joseph two big-play veterans who can be moved around to exploit matchups all over the front. It’s the best way to add some oomph to a front seven lacking punch.