Mike Iupati, Guard, stay.
Iupati is arguably Arizona’s top offensive lineman, and good offensive linemen are hard to find in the NFL. Paired with Iupati’s high talent level is his experience. Iupati has been blocking in the NFL since he became a first-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2010. Arizona placed Iupati on Injured Reserve in December, caused many to speculate that his time in Arizona is done. With young, underdeveloped linemen across Arizona’s offensive front, however, retaining a veteran talent like Iupati is quite logical.
Phil Dawson, Kicker, go.
Dawson is one of the longest tenured players in the league, kicking since 1999. The length of Dawson’s career has seemed to catch up with him, as Dawson has struggled to stay healthy as of recently. The Cardinals placed the 44-year-old Dawson on the Injured Reserve list last November with a hip injury. Dawson made five field goals on eight attempts, but was a perfect 15-of-15 on extra points in 2018.
Deone Bucannon, Linebacker/Safety, go.
Bucannon has turned out to be a player that no organization or fanbase wants to have: a draft bust. The Cardinals selected Bucannon with the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Expectations were high for Bucannon but he has never been able to deliver. Arizona took action to these realizations last October, when it was reported the team had been trying to trade Bucannon. Over the course of his career, Bucannon has recorded 404 combined tackles, 7 sacks, 7 forced fumbles with 5 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions and one defensive touchdown in 56 career starts.
Tre Boston, Safety, stay.
Boston’s name became pretty well known following his breakout 2017 campaign with the Los Angeles Chargers in which he tallied 79 combined tackles and five interceptions, each being career highs. The Chargers surprisingly elected not to re-sign Boston, a move that would result in the safety having to wait until late July before he was on a roster again. With Arizona as his third team in as many years, Boston matched his career high 79 combined tackles and registered three interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Like fellow impending free agent Mike Iupati, Boston is a veteran presence and starter caliber talent in a unit that is underdeveloped and hungry for quality depth.
Benson Mayowa, Edge, stay.
Not many fans will know Mayowa’s name, but what they hopefully will agree with after reading this article is he’s a player that the Cardinals should keep around. Mayowa served as a rotational pass rusher in Arizona’s defense, being active in 15 games and starting 4. Mayowa recorded 38 combined tackles, 4 sacks and one forced fumble and fumble recovery in his only season with the Cardinals in 2018. Having a pass rush rotation is very underappreciated in the NFL, but the league’s best defenses have one.
Markus Golden, Edge, stay.
Like Mayowa, Golden also serves as a rotational pass rusher for the Cards. Golden was out-produced by Mayowa in 2018, registering 1.5 less sacks and eight less tackles, but as was mentioned above, having a good pass rush rotation is essential to having a good defense.
John Phillips, Tight End, go.
Phillips was the odd man out in his lone season in Arizona, as the tight end was only active for eight games and caught just three passes for 38 yards.
Joe Barksdale, Tackle, go.
Barksdale was signed by the Cardinals in December as a pure band-aid signing. While he started all four games he was eligible for, Arizona could land a more potent blocker in free agency.
Gerald Hodges, Linebacker, go.
Hodges was mostly a depth and special teams player for the Cardinals this past season. The veteran linebacker was active for all 16 games, but only started in six. Hodges was credited with 55 combined tackles in 2018.
Derrick Coleman, Fullback, stay.
Coleman is pretty well known for playing the NFL’s forgotten Fullback position. Coleman is the only deaf NFL player, sending a powerful message to fans each Sunday. His unfortunate disibility aside, Coleman has provided versatility to each offense he’s played in over his career. With the Cardinals in 2018, the 28-year-old caught two passes for 17 yards and rushed for 3 yards on two carries. Not bad usage for the league’s least used position!
Oday Aboushi, Guard, stay.
Aboushi was solely a depth player on Arizona’s offensive front, but a decent one. Aboushi only dressed for eight contests but started six in 2018. The Cardinals re-signing Aboushi to remain in the same role he is now surely isn’t hurting anything.
Rodney Gunter, Defensive Tackle, stay.
Gunter played his best season as a professional in a contract year in 2018, posting career bests in tackles (44), forced fumbles (2) and sacks (4.5). Gunter is a quality depth option for Arizona, showcasing lots of potential and only aged 26 years.
Zach Moore, Edge, go.
Moore was active in all 16 games for the Cardinals in 2018, and made one start. Moore recorded a career high 3.5 sacks with Arizona, but Arizona has more quality rotational and depth options in Benson Mayowa and Markus Golden.
J.J. Nelson, Wide Receiver, stay.
Nelson was seldom included in the offense with rookie QB Josh Rosen in 2018, only catching 7 passes on 19 targets for 64 yards. Despite his big drop-off in production, Nelson provides depth to a Cardinals receiver room where depth is already, well, concerning outside of Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
Ricky Seals-Jones, Tight End, stay.
Seals-Jones has emerged as a promising young depth option for the Cardinals in his two NFL seasons. In 6 career starts, the 24-year-old tight end has hauled in 46 passes for 544 yards and 4 touchdowns.