Concerned with the current depth and experience level at inside linebacker, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said this week he'd like to see another inside linebacker on the roster.
There are eight inside backers currently on the roster, but only three -- Daryl Washington, Larry Foote and Keenan Clayton -- have any experience in the regular season. One presumable starter, Kevin Minter, played one snap on defense last season. Seven-year veteran Lorenzo Alexander, who can play inside and outside, is another option as a backup.
"I'd like to add another player if there's one possible who can beat this lineup," Arians said. "I like some of our young guys and a couple of the rookies are looking OK. So, we'll just see how it goes."
Arians has a few routes to find an additional ILB. He can peruse the waiver wire, bring in an undrafted rookie or sign a free agent.
Clayton, who played in 36 games from 2010-12 but didn't play last season, was signed on May 14, and Arizona signed two undrafted free agents to compete at ILB, Glenn Carson and Jonathan Brown. Add in practice squad players Kenny Demens, who was active for two games last season, and JoJo Dickson, and Arizona has a mostly inexperienced group of inside backers.
But Arians isn't just looking at the short term when he talks about adding a ninth inside linebacker. With Washington's suspension still looming, the Cardinals may lose the starter for anywhere from a game to a full season. Foote could fill Washington's role but he played just 55 snaps last season after tearing his bicep in the opening week of 2013.
The Cardinals' best bet to add depth and experience to the inside linebacker corps would be to go through free agency. There are 32 free agent inside linebackers on the market as of Wednesday, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of those, six didn't play a snap in 2013 and another 16 played less than 100.
Here are three free agent inside linebackers that Arizona could sign to add depth and experience:
Pat Angerer. He wasn't re-signed by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2013 season, which he finished on IR because of a knee injury. Arians is familiar with Angerer after spending the 2012 season with the Colts.
Erin Henderson. Released by Minnesota in February reportedly following his second drunken-driving arrest in less than two months. His 11.1 run-stop percentage was sixth best for an ILB last season according to Pro Football Focus.
Jonathan Vilma. He wasn't re-signed by the New Orleans Saints after a lingering knee injury limited him to just one game in 2013. He'd be a risk but if he's healthy he can provide experience and leadership while filling in for a few quality snaps.