Arizona Cardinals rebuilding or reloading?

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Updated: May 10, 2018

Cardinals a longshot to win Super Bowl

2019 Super Bowl Odds: Arizona Cardinals rebuilding or reloading?

The Arizona Cardinals have shown elements of a rebuild this offseason as their starting quarterback and head coach both retired after last season. But with star running back David Johnson healthy again, what should we make of Arizona’s chances in the NFC West and the NFL as a whole?

According to our NFL Futures Page, the Cardinals are 80/1 to win the Super Bowl. Only a handful of teams have worse odds than Arizona. The New England Patriots are favored to win the Super Bowl at 6/1, while defending champion Philadelphia is at 8/1. The Los Angeles Rams are at 10/1 after their busy offseason. The Pittsburgh Steelers are also at 10/1. The largest odds go to six teams at 100/1 – the Bills, Browns, Bears, Dolphins, Bengals and Jets.

Johnson going to return to form?

Arizona entered the 2017 campaign with an offense centered around Johnson, who was drafted No. 1 overall in more fantasy leagues than not. But a quick injury in the season opener shelved Johnson for the rest of the season. In 2016, Johnson rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns on 292 carries. His value increased a lot due to his prowess as a pass catcher as he totaled 80 receptions for 879 yards and another four scores. But he only managed 11 rushes for 23 yards plus six catches for another 67 before the wrist injury at Detroit in the first game of the 2017 season. The shelf life on running backs isn’t long and Johnson took a lot of hits in 2016, but the good news for Johnson and Arizona is that his injury wasn’t to a leg and he has had a long time to get his body healthy again.

Last month, Johnson declared his wrist ‘100 percent’ and ready to go.

Mathieu among departures

The Cardinals opted to cut veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu in a cost-cutting move, leaving a void at safety. Mathieu rebounded some last year after a poor 2016 campaign according to Pro Football Focus, his is overall grade was still far below his best season of 2015 when there was Defensive Player of the Year talk surrounding him. Mathieu was ingrained in the Arizona identity and will be difficult to replace. He signed with the Texans after being cut by the Cardinals.

Arians, Palmer retirements leave voids

Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians gave the Cardinals a confidence they could compete with anyone and not back down from any opponent. Injuries ravaged Arizona in 2017, including Johnson and quarterback Carson Palmer which paved the way to an 8-8 record. Palmer also retired after last year, with Arizona opting to sign Sam Bradford in free agency and draft UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen in the first round. While Rosen is quite clearly the future and might have the most NFL polish of any QB in the 2018 draft class, it appears new head coach Steve Wilks is content with Bradford beginning the season as the starter. Of course, everything is subject to change and Bradford has had a litany of injuries during his career.

Outlook:

The Cardinals don’t look to be a playoff team, but the NFL is weird in that a team that doesn’t look good on paper ends up jumping up the standings and surprising a number of people. With Johnson back in the fold and veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald not looking like he’ll ever lose a step, there is plenty of potential here. The loss of Mathieu hurts, but Arizona prides itself on strong defense and should be at least adequate on that side of the ball. If Bradford and/or Rosen can impress, this team could win more games than projected. 

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