The Cardinals passed on running back Adrian Peterson in the NFL draft and after years of regret, managed to bring him to Arizona as a free agent in 2017. They’re about to right another wrong and do the same thing with outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the former Chandler Hamilton High School and Arizona State standout.
The news moved fast on Monday as Suggs apparently first informed the Ravens of his intentions to move on and sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent. Shortly thereafter, it was reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Media that Suggs had tentatively agreed to a one-year deal with the Cardinals.
The signing is expected to become official on Wednesday, Rapoport said, when the NFL’s free-agency period officially begins. Teams were allowed to begin negotiating with free agents on Monday. Terms of the Suggs’ contract were not immediately known.
Suggs has 132½ career sacks, including a combined 38 over the past four seasons for Baltimore, but he turns 37 in October and is seen as most likely just a one-year fix. He participated on 76 percent of the Ravens’ snaps on defense this past season, when he registered seven sacks and 34 tackles with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
In Arizona, he would likely draw a starting assignment opposite Chandler Jones, who led the NFL in sacks two years ago with 17. His signing, however, wouldn’t preclude the Cardinals from selecting Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa with the No.1 overall pick in next month’s draft. It also doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t try to re-sign Markus Golden, who is an unrestricted free agent.
In 2003, the Cardinals could have drafted Suggs, who went 10th overall to the Ravens, but they opted to trade down that year and, instead, selected wide receiver Bryant Johnson and defensive end Calvin Pace at Nos. 17 and 18.
Suggs’ 132½ sacks are tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor and Leslie O’Neal for 13th on the all-time NFL list.
The Cardinals have been proactive in adding to their roster well before the early, free-agent negotiating period. Since the end of their disappointing 3-13 season, they’ve addressed multiple positions and have filled some real areas of need.
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But for every new player they bring in, whether it be by virtue of a waiver claim, a trade or signing of a veteran who had been released elsewhere, it means someone else won’t be back.
Veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham is about to become the latest casualty on the heels of the Cardinals releasing safety Antoine Bethea and backup quarterback Mike Glennon this past Friday. Gresham’s release will become official after the NFL’s new league year opens on Wednesday.
Gresham, who caught just nine passes last season, was scheduled to make $6.29 million in 2019 and $6.75 million in 2020. The Cardinals would have been on the hook for at least $3.5 million in guaranteed salary if he was still on the roster on Saturday.
Gresham, 30, became expendable after the Cardinals signed fellow veteran tight end Charles Clay, 30, last month. Clay, who spent the previous four seasons with the Bills after spending the previous four years with the Dolphins, agreed to a one-year deal with $3.25 million.
Both players have similar career statistics. Gresham has 377 receptions for 3,752 yards and 29 touchdowns in nine seasons; Clay has 339 catches for 3,631 yards and 23 touchdowns in eight seasons.
“Clay is such a versatile player,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said recently at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I was at the University of Houston and we played against him in Tulsa and I’ve always been enamored with the different ways he can be used, whether it’s in the backfield blocking or you can hand him the ball.
“He can be a matchup at wide receiver. He can just do a lot of things. And he’s a veteran presence that we felt like could be good for Ricky (Seals-Jones) in that room.”
On Friday, the Cardinals extended tender offers to both Seals-Jones and fellow tight end Darrell Daniels. Seals-Jones set career highs with 34 receptions and 343 yards receiving in 15 games last season. Daniels appeared in two games for Arizona in 2018 after joining the team off waivers from Seattle in Week 13.
As for potential targets the Cardinals will be seeking in free agency, the needs are still many despite the fact they have already added a starting safety (D.J. Swearinger), a starting cornerback (Robert Alford), a starting right tackle (Marcus Gilbert), plus a potential starting outside linebacker (Brooks Reed) and more linebacker depth (Tanner Vallejo).
Through free agency and the upcoming draft, the Cardinals are still on the look out for help along the offensive line, particularly at guard, as well as potential new starters at wide receiver, linebacker, defensive tackle and extra depth at cornerback and safety, plus a new backup quarterback.
General manager Steve Keim has said the Cardinals will be thoroughly engaged during the free-agent signing period, but he also indicated they might not try to corner the market, either.
“I think you have to be very patient through the process,” he said. “You don’t have to jump out there and spend a lot of money on day one.”
In addition to reportedly agreeing to terms with Suggs, other possible free agents the Cardinals could be considering include linebackers C.J. Mosley (Ravens), K.J. Wright (Seahawks), Brandon Marshall (Broncos) and Anthony Barr (Vikings), guards Rodger Saffold (Rams) and D.J. Fluker (Seahawks), wide receivers Randall Cobb (Packers), Breshad Perriman (Browns) and Tavon Austin (Cowboys) with Tyrod Taylor (Browns), Teddy Bridgewater (Saints) and Brent Hundley (Seahawks) as possible backup quarterback candidates.
The Cardinals will be busy checking into another player this week as they plan to send a team of representatives to Norman, Oklahoma on Wednesday for quarterback Kyler Murray’s heavily-anticipated pro day in advance of next month’s draft. The Cardinals have been liked to Murray for several weeks now in part because they hold the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.