Cardinals Team Needs, Offseason Strategy

The Cardinals would like re-sign inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and quarterback Kurt Warner before free agency begins at the end of the month. That will be a challenge, however. The talks with Dansby's agent are still in the preliminary stages, and it's more likely the club will use its franchise tag on him to buy additional time. And there's more...

Kurt Warner hasn't yet committed to playing in 2009, although many people in the organization believe strongly that he will return.

How the contract talks proceed will be a factor in Warner's decision.

The club has plenty of money under the cap, nearly $42 million, and will add another $5 million when it releases running back Edgerrin James, as expected.

The Cardinals will take another shot at extending the contract of receiver Anquan Boldin, although Boldin has been emphatic that will never sign another deal with the team.

TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS

1. Running back: The Cardinals struggled to run for most of the season. Edgerrin James will be released this spring and J.J. Arrington is an unrestricted free agent. That leaves Tim Hightower as the only back on the roster.

2. Outside linebacker: The Cardinals are old and beat up at those two positions and need some youth, especially if the youngster can rush the passer.

3. Center: Starter Lyle Sendlein improves as the year progressed, but the Cardinals could use more strength inside.

MEDICAL WATCH: OLB/DE Travis LaBoy needs surgery to repair a torn biceps tendon suffered in the NFC title game. He is likely to miss most of the spring workouts.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--RB J.J. Arrington found a role as the team's third-down back and as the single back in spread formations. For the right price, the Cardinals would like him back.

--LB Monty Beisel is an excellent backup who can play inside and out. He could return for $1 million or so a year.

--DE Bertrand Berry will be 34 next season, but he led the team in tackles. He played for $1 million last season and likely would return for that.

--G Elton Brown has been a backup for most of his four seasons. He has ability but has difficulty controlling his weight. He likely will sign elsewhere.

--CB Ralph Brown is a solid nickel and dime corner. A 10-year veteran, he's a great influence on younger players. Could return for a reasonable price.

--ILB Karlos Dansby probably will be hit with the franchise tag soon. The club would like to lock him up to a long-term deal, but Dansby might want too much.

--P Ben Graham was great at pinning teams inside the 20 but his hang time was lacking. Club is likely to bring him back.

--CB Eric Green went from starter to backup to inactive. Coaches didn't like his attitude and he is as good as gone.

--OLB Clark Haggans played very well until suffering a foot injury late in the year. Cards should be able to re-sign him for $1 million or so.

--G/C Scott Peters suffered a severe knee injury in camp. He likely won't return.

--QB Brian St. Pierre was the third quarterback all season but he has some ability. He likely will return.

--DE Antonio Smith is a solid starter and no one plays harder. He will get a big deal in free agency and the Cardinals aren't likely to match since they have Calais Campbell ready to take over.

--FB Terrelle Smith is still an effective blocker and he is anxious to stay in Arizona. He might be expendable, however, because the club has Tim Castille.

--TE Jerame Tuman showed his age this season, was cut in December and then brought back because of injuries. He won't return.

--QB Kurt Warner is a high priority in free agency and the Cardinals are hopeful of re-signing him to a two-year deal.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--TE Leonard Pope is a decent player but he has trouble picking up nuances of the offense. Might get a low tender.

--NT Gabe Watson played through knee difficulties. A solid player.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--CB Michael Adams is only about 5-8 but he's competitive and a special teams standout.

--FB Tim Castille is a decent special teamer who must improve his blocking.

--TE Ben Patrick has the talent to be a solid starter.

--TE Stephen Spach was the starter before suffering a torn ACL in the playoffs.

--C Pat Ross was the backup all year but will find it hard to press for playing time.

--C Lyle Sendlein started all 16 games and might be due for a longer-term deal.

--LB Pago Togafau is under-size but played on a lot of special teams.

--T Elliot Vallejo has good size and decent feet. This is a key off-season for him.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.

PLAYERS LOST: None.

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