Here are the moves the Arizona Cardinals should consider when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday:
Priority No. 1 (sign Tamba Hali): The Cardinals, who have $15.4 million in salary-cap space, need a pass-rusher. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. While they may find the future of their pass rush in April’s draft, they can solidify the position immediately with Hali. Money, however, may be an issue. He’ll demand a lot on the open market and he may not be worth it to the Cardinals, but Arizona was a pass-rusher away from Super Bowl 50 last season.
Priority No. 2 (sign Alex Mack): Like Hali, Mack will demand top dollar, and the Cardinals already have invested quite a bit on their offensive line the past two offseasons. The question with Mack is whether he’s open to taking a bit less to play for an instant contender. With incumbent center Lyle Sendlein scheduled to be a free agent and Arizona looking at former left guard Jonathan Cooper at center, finding a Pro Bowler at the position would solidify the offensive line and immediately improve the running game to complement a top-tier passing offense.
Priority No. 3 (sign Bruce Irvin): The Cardinals have become awfully familiar with Irvin, the linebacker and defensive end from the Seattle Seahawks. He’d bring his versatility and ability to stay on the field for three downs, as well as his 22 sacks and Super Bowl ring to a title contender. He also might command high dollar on the open market, but at 28, he’s young enough to be a staple in Arizona’s pass rush for the next few years.
Priority No. 4 (sign Vernon Davis): With injuries limiting the position last season and Jermaine Gresham scheduled to be a free agent, adding Davis would give the Cardinals another pass-catching threat at tight end. He’d be an ideal complement to Darren Fells and Troy Niklas, who are block-first tight ends. Adding an offensive threat with the skill level of Davis will bolster quarterback Carson Palmer’s options at tight end, a position that accounted for less than 600 receiving yards.
Priority No. 5 (sign Nick Fairley): Arizona already has depth in the interior of its defensive line, but adding Fairley would give the Cardinals another pass-rushing option to rotate in among the likes of Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Rodney Gunter and Corey Peters, who’s returning from injury. Having Fairley, who had 13.5 sacks in his first four seasons with Detroit, would bolster the interior pass rush the Cardinals sought last season.