first_img Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Prior to the Cardinals’ NFC Championship bout with the Carolina Panthers, they seemed to be very, very close to reaching the Super Bowl.Following a 49-15 loss in which they were barely competitive makes it appear they are actually pretty far away.The truth is, one game — no matter how bad it is — does not erase all the strides the organization has made in recent years, nor does it mean the Cardinals were not and are not one of the NFC’s best teams. The other thing the site points out the Cardinals should do is revamp the offensive line, which is likely to happen given the contract status of 3/5 of it, as center Lyle Sendlein, right guard Ted Larsen and right tackle Bobby Massie are all set to become free agents.At right guard, former first-round pick Jonathan Cooper (61.6) began the year as the starter, but Ted Larsen (37.2) took over after Cooper went down with injury, and Cooper was later unable to win the starting job back. By our numbers, Cooper was far better, but the Cardinals preferred Larsen, and Cooper still has a long way to go before he’s an asset. Similarly, A.Q. Shipley (73.6) was brought in to potentially take over the center job from Lyle Sendlein (48.8). Sendlein remained the starter all year, despite Shipley grading better in recent seasons. At right tackle, Bobby Massie (46.3) remained the starter, even though first-round pick D.J. Humphries could have potentially done a better job.It is pointed out that one free agent who could interest the Cardinals along the line is guard Michael Harris, who was with the Minnesota Vikings.If there is something to take from this analysis it is that while the Cardinals have some needs, there figure to be options in order to satiate them. Furthermore, while there is little doubt it would be nice to upgrade the roster at these positions — possibly with some of the players listed — the team did just win 13 games and isn’t in need of a roster overhaul. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Matt Schaub (8) is sacked by Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50), during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo That’s essentially the way PFF sees it, too, pointing out how the risk of injury or retirement is likely to hurt them more than any talent deficiencies they may have. Having a roster with few holes should make it easier to find the right talent, which is imperative now more than ever.Their current window of opportunity will only stay open as long as Carson Palmer is still on the roster, but those days are limited. The Cardinals need to make a Super Bowl in 2016-17, or risk missing their opportunity. Top Stories center_img What it does mean, though, is there is still work to do if they are to reach and possibly win a Super Bowl, and the folks over at ProFootballFocus.com put together a list of three things the Cardinals should do in order to ensure they are back in the playoffs competing for a Lombardi Trophy next year.The first thing they note is re-investing in the team’s building blocks.While most teams have a list of free agents they would love to re-sign, the Cardinals could lose all of their unrestricted free agents and not be much worse off. The only players with an overall grade above 70.0 (1–100 scale) that they could lose are starting safety, Rashad Johnson (70.2), and situational pass rusher, Dwight Freeney (74.6). Both are above the age of 30, so even if they are re-signed, a replacement will need to be found soon enough. Even though giving current Cardinals contracts isn’t an immediate need, there are still players worth giving new contacts to.The Cardinals are slated to have a number of players reach free agency, some of whom are starters or played key roles this past season. There has already been discussion about the team wanting to extend the contract of safety Tyrann Mathieu, even though his deal is not up until after the 2016 season, and PFF points out Michael Floyd and Calais Campbell, both of whom are important pieces, could warrant new contracts. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires But in terms of what the Cardinals need to add to the roster that wasn’t already on it, the first thing they mention is something Cardinals GM Steve Keim talked about when giving his own thoughts on where the team would like to improve, and that is improving the pass rush.The men that should be at the top of the Cardinals’ wish list are Von Miller (92.9) and Olivier Vernon (92.2). While everyone knows how good Miller is, many missed Vernon’s average of one sack, three hits, and three hurries per game over the second half of the season. Either could help Arizona go from a great defense to an elite one.Other less expensive options include Robert Ayers (88.5), William Hayes (85.8), and Derrick Shelby (82.9). Ayers had double-digit sacks, hits, and hurries, despite missing a quarter of the season. Hayes had the sixth-highest pass rushing productivity for a 4-3 defensive end, and Shelby reached 40 pressures while being one of the better 4-3 defensive ends against the run. Big names Greg Hardy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Aldon Smith are also available, although they all come with different issues, and none of them were as productive as the previously mentioned players. Any of them would help in the area the Cardinals have struggled with the most on defense.Elite pass rushers are expensive, and if the Cardinals are to land one of the better ones available they will have to pay a hefty salary. Then again, after finishing tied for 20th in the NFL with 36 sacks — and knowing that Freeney, who led the team with eight, might not return — there may be a good amount of motivation to dedicate a good chunk of cap space to improving a position of need.last_img