With all the angst surrounding Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, general manager Steve Keim should be thinking of ways to help the 24-year-old feel comfortable.
In the wide receiver department, the Cardinals will see Christian Kirk and AJ Green enter free agency on March 16. That leaves Murray with DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Antoine Wesley and Andy Isabella as his top four wides for 2022.
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It’s not enough. The Cardinals will surely be looking at markets for Kirk and Green as well as other free agent receivers and even the NFL Draft.
But in the meantime, a writer has suggested a wide receiver in the commercial market that might be available.
The writer offers a “realistic business option”
There has been speculation that wide receivers could be trade targets for the Cardinals this offseason by Cards media.
USA Today Card Feed writer Alexander Sutton called Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley a “perfect and realistic option” for the Cardinals. PHNX Cardinals journalist Venerable Johnny think the The cards must be exchanged for Baltimore Ravens WR Hollywood Brown, who recently deleted Instagram from his team social media and was Murray’s teammate at Oklahoma.
NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo said on January 15 that “a fresh start could be in the cards” for Ridley, and that “league teams believe he will be available at some point”. But Ridley will have suitors with more draft ammunition, and the Cardinals surpass the $813,300 cap heading into the 2022 offseason according to Overthecap.com. As for Brown, the Ravens have shown no sign of wanting to trade the former first-round pick.
Writer USA Today’s Cards Wire chuck harris responded to a tweet from PHNX Cardinals asking if the Cardinals should reunite Murray and Brown by saying:
“A more realistic trade option, esp. if the Texans continue their rebuild, that would be WR Brandin Cooks. There were rumors last season about Cooks just before the trade deadline. The Cooks are 1 year on the current contract (+ 2 years cancellable) and would not cost a 1st (prob. a 2nd and late).
There was interest in the cooks ahead of the 2021 trade deadline. But ESPN’s Dan Graziano said in October he didn’t “get it” the Texans were willing to trade cooks. Cooks finished the year catching a career-high 90 passes for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns.
Still, the former Saints’ first-round pick is aware of the move as he’s been traded three times in his career. Although Cooks didn’t reach a Pro Bowl in his eight-year career, he eclipsed 1,000 yards in six of them. He also appeared twice in the Super Bowl, once with the New England Patriots and once with the Los Angeles Rams.
Cooks was traded from the Rams to the Texans and was the attempted solution, not the problem for a team that has been 8-25 the past two seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks’ 77.4 offensive rating in 2021 placed him 25th among all receivers.
The veteran receiver is entering the final year of his contract, which is worth $12.5 million in base salary. It would make sense for the Texans to trade cooks in 2022 for a capital project knowing they are in a rebuilding situation.
A question that remains
Cooks would be a great choice for the Cardinals as the team will be looking for an outside threat in 2022. While Green was productive, the team could try to find a younger answer on the outside.
The 28-year-old had an average target depth of 11.8 and 10.5 in his two seasons with the Texans and would create havoc for teams to guard Hopkins, Moore and the veteran receiver.
Harris noted that it likely takes a second-round pick to land Cooks. The Cardinals could see how the season goes for the Cooks and then the veteran enters free agency in 2023. It’s not a question of whether the Cardinals should trade for the Cooks. The question is, “Would the Texans deal with the Cardinals again?”
The Cardinals traded running back David Johnson, a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick to the Texans for Hopkins in 2020. Then-Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien said been heavily crucified for the blunder of an exchange. Johnson had just 919 rushing yards the past two seasons and O’Brien’s two draft picks didn’t work out. O’Brien was fired after an 0-4 start in the 2020 season.
While the Texans have new head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Nick Casserio, owner Janice McNair is still in command of the ship. Jack Easterby has also served as executive vice president of football operations since 2020 and may have a bad taste of the Hopkins deal’s mouth.
Yes, we tend to think that organizations don’t care about public perception. But it’s safe to say that the Texans are unlikely to provide two outstanding wide receivers for the Cardinals since 2020.
But hey, crazier things have happened.