The Arizona Cardinals are heading into a very important offseason. It is Year 2 of the regime under general manager Monti Ossenfort and head coach Jonathan Gannon and they will be looking to continue making strides.
The team is set up well to upgrade the roster. They have two first-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, their own and the Houston Texans’ selection. Arizona is rumored to be looking to add a bonafide No. 1 receiver for Kyler Murray to work with near the top of the draft.
In free agency, the focus for the Cardinals should be on the defensive side of the ball. Right now they are projected to have over $44 million in cap space to spend, providing them the chance to go hunting for top-of-the-market players.
One area the team that could use some help is the passing rushing department. Coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles as their defensive coordinator, Gannon knows how important and game-changing a dominant pass rush can be.
Last season, the Cardinals were lacking in that area. They had only 33 sacks on the season, which ranked 30th in the league. If Arizona wants to make a splash in free agency, one player they can target is Brian Burns of the Carolina Panthers.
“Edge defender Dennis Gardeck put together a solid pass-rushing season for the Cardinals, totaling 42 pressures from 243 pass-rushing snaps. But he was the team’s only edge defender to earn a PFF pass-rushing grade above 70.0. Burns has topped that in each of the past four seasons and, while he hasn’t broken into the elite range tier at the position yet, is still young enough to develop further,” wrote Gordon McGuinness of PFF.
Burns has been a consistent pass rusher for the Panthers and is looking to cash in on a lucrative long-term contract. He hasn’t gotten close to an extension with Carolina, which could open the door for a team such as the Cardinals to swoop in and snag him this offseason.
Selected No. 16 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, Burns has recorded at least 7.5 sacks in all five of his NFL seasons. He has two Pro Bowl nods on his resume and as McGuinness said, there is still a chance for him to reach that elite level given his youth.
Looking for a foundational piece on defense, Burns could be the guy for Gannon and the Cardinals. This is a defensive front that could certainly use an infusion of talent and Burns is the kind of player who can help turn things around instantly.
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