3 surprise cuts the Cardinals could make this offseason

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 04: Kyler Murray #1 and Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals react after a penalty during the second half of their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 31-21. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The club will lose some players but the defense just added a big piece.

An offseason in Arizona is proving to be very interesting. Roughly a year ago, the organization orchestrated a trade with the Texans and acquired wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for an incredibly reasonable price. This past week, defensive end J.J. Watt surprised many by picking the team in the desert to join after he was cut loose by Houston back in February – via his own request.

Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim doesn’t have a ton of salary cap room (see Spotrac) to play with and the team has its share of prominent players to re-sign (see Spotrac) – in particular legendary wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson. So the club may still be ready to cut loose a few veterans to improve their financial situation. So which three players could be on the outs with the franchise?

3. G Justin Pugh

He’s a former first-round draft choice of the New York Giants in 2013. Justin Pugh has been a steady starter for the Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons after his first year in the desert was limited by injuries. He’s in the midst of a five-year, $44.775 million dollar contract (via Spotrac) that he inked with the Cards in 2018. This past season, he was part of the league’s 12th-ranked offensive front according to Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

In terms of a personal ranking, Pugh is tied for 38th in terms of PFF’s guard rankings. Arizona could also save themselves some money by parting ways with the former Syracuse University (via Spotrac). The Cardinals’ offensive line could look very different in 2021 as right guard J.R. Sweezy and right tackle Kelvin Beachum can become unrestricted free agents. The latter “filled in” for Marcus Gilbert, who opted out for 2020 (COVID-19) and missed all of ’19 with a torn ACL.

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