New faces: QB Kyler Murray, LB Jordan Hicks, OLB Terrell Suggs, OT Marcus Gilbert, CB Robert Alford, CB Byron Murphy, G J.R. Sweezy, DT Darius Philon, G Max Garcia, LB Brooks Reed, WR Michael Crabtree, TE Charles Clay, DT Terrell McClain, DE Zach Allen, WR Andy Isabella, QB Brett Hundley
They’re gone: QB Josh Rosen, OLB Markus Golden, LB Deone Buccannon, S Antoine Bethea, G Mike Iupati, QB Mike Glennon, DT Olsen Pierre, TE Germaine Gresham, LB Josh Bynes, S Tre Boston
2019 snapshot: When you have a season as disastrous as Arizona’s 2018 campaign, blowing everything up and starting over is understandable. Even so, it’s hard to argue head coach Steve Wilks or Rosen deserved to be sent packing after just one year. Of course, Wilks’ replacement — Kliff Kingsbury — had everything to do with why Rosen was shipped to Miami, as Kingsbury wanted Murray to run his Air Raid offense.
Many might prefer Murray to Rosen, but Rosen was widely viewed as the better prospect coming out of college, and a horrible supporting cast did him no favors in 2018. More importantly, the Cardinals could have had Rosen and Nick Bosa (or Quinnen Williams), but instead wound up with Murray and Isabella (the 62nd pick in return for Rosen). It’s difficult to agree with that tradeoff.
Arizona also churned the roster elsewhere, adding three players (Alford, Reed, Clay) before free agency even began, reinforcing the offensive line with Gilbert (via trade) and Sweezy (free agency) and adding Hicks and Suggs to a defense that slipped last season. The draft brought all sorts of potential contributors, with Murphy, Allen and Isabella all having a chance to grab a role early, and Murray set to start.
Get to know… CB Byron Murphy.
With Alford hurt and Patrick Peterson serving a suspension to start the season, Murphy will need to mature quickly. General manager Steve Keim said Murphy stood out in this draft class for his pure cover skills and ability to play everywhere. The second-round pick also drew some pretty lofty praise from Peterson, who said Murphy reminds him of Tyrann Mathieu.
Worth the investment?
–If you believe in the coach-QB combo, go right ahead with the over on Arizona’s 5.5-win total. The offensive line should be at least marginally improved, and Murray could win a game or two on his own.
–Would you rather take Murray or David Johnson (both at +6600) as a longshot to win MVP? Given Johnson got zero votes after a transcendent 2016 campaign, we’d lean heavily toward Murray.
Bottom line: Kingsbury and Murray must hit for Steve Keim’s risky offseason to be a success, which is far from a certainty. The Cardinals should be fascinating but most likely not major factors in 2019.