Arizona Cardinals a big NFL free agency winner, one of most improved teams

Jeremy Cluff
Arizona Republic
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The Arizona Cardinals are receiving rave reviews for their moves in NFL free agency so far.

Several NFL writers are praising the team's acquisitions so far this offseason, with the team being labeled a "winner" in many stories looking at the winners and losers of free agency.

One site calls the Cardinals one of the most improved teams in the NFL.

Bleacher Report recently put Arizona as the fifth-most improved team in the league.

Alex Ballentine wrote: "The Cardinals' moves over the past two seasons will make it impossible for Kyler Murray to say the team didn't give him enough to work with on his rookie contract. …  J.J. Watt was a surprise signing given how many teams were interested in him after he left Houston. The soon-to-be 32-year-old isn't the dominant force he once was as a pass-rusher, but Pro Football Focus still rated him as the seventh-best edge defender. The Cards let Haason Reddick walk, so there was some loss in the pass rush, but Watt's presence as a leader and stability make him an upgrade. A.J. Green looked like he was done last year in Cincinnati. But if he's going to see a bounce-back year and regain some of his form, Arizona is the place to do it. He'll get to play with an exciting young quarterback alongside DeAndre Hopkins. Larry Fitzgerald is a free agent and has yet to decide if he'll retire or play one more season with the Cards. Green can either serve as his replacement or give them another sure set of hands in the red zone."

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The Jacksonville Jaguars came in at No. 4 on the list, with the Washington Football Team at No. 3 and the New York Jets at No. 2.

Ballentine listed the New England Patriots as the most improved team in the league so far.

Still, he was impressed with the Cardinals' moves.

He wrote: "The true boost to the offense is the trade that brought in Rodney Hudson. The Raiders' puzzling decision to blow up their offensive line was the Cardinals' gain. They got PFF's eighth-ranked center for next to nothing and continue to give Murray what he needs to be successful. The Cardinals added a top-10 player on each side of the ball by PFF's metrics. Even if Green doesn't pan out, that's a huge pair of moves for a team not expected to get significantly better during this period."

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Several other sites also really like what Arizona has done in free agency.

Here's what they are saying about the Cardinals and their "winning" moves this offseason.

Sports Illustrated: Kyler Murray a big winner in NFL free agency

Conor Orr writes: "We’re still up in the air as to what the A.J. Green signing ultimately means in Arizona. He could have wanted out of Cincinnati and had few options to alleviate double coverage, which impacted his numbers. This could end up being the best $6 million (up to $8 million with incentives) Steve Keim has ever spent. The more quantifiable upgrade is at center. Rodney Hudson has been one of the league’s best for a long time now, and graded out well in 2020 despite some erratic performances elsewhere around him. We saw a similar move by the Chargers, with the acquisition of Corey Linsley for Justin Herbert. There are few more valuable pieces than a heady, experienced center who can help you run on autopilot."

NBC Sports: Cardinals a big winner for Rodney Hudson, other moves

Josh Schrock writes: "The J.J. Watt signing was splashy, but it's getting Hudson that has me put the Cardinals in the winner's circle here. If Kyler Murray is going to take the next step, the Cardinals have to protect him and give him time to orchestrate from the pocket and not rely on his improvisational skills. Hudson is one of the best centers in football and should immediately improve the Cardinals' offensive line. They also signed A.J. Green to a one-year contract, but the addition of Hudson puts the Cardinals on track to get over the hump and back to the playoffs in 2021."

Fox Sports: Cardinals an 'improved' team for free agency moves

Colin Cowherd said: "Arizona's old: J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, Rodney Hudson. But those are good one-, two-year players. And I do think Kyler Murray was improving at the end of last year. I think they're better."

Fansided: Why the Cardinals are a winner in free agency

Lee Vowell writes: "Arizona isn’t making moves to be better in five years; they are making moves to be better in 2021. Signing Watt gives their other end, Chandler Jones, a lot of help and Watt is good against the run too. Russell Wilson will feel the pressure when the Seahawks play the Cardinals. And Green is better in 2021 than Larry Fitzgerald would have been."

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Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals are big winners in NFL free agency, according to several NFL writers.

Yahoo Sports: Cardinals, Kyler Murray are winners in free agency

Matt Harmon said: "Another winner here is Kyler Murray. The Cardinals continue to build around their franchise quarterback. They trade for Rodney Hudson, who's still a stud center in the league. Love that one. The protection was a little bit off for Murray last year. And look, the signing of AJ Green-- it's not exactly exciting assigning AJ Green in 2015. But if he can be an upgrade over Andy Isabella and some of these guys that have not worked out for the Cardinals, that's still going to be good news for Kyler Murray."

CBS Sports: Cardinals receive a B- for moves in free agency so far

It writes: "Adding J.J. Watt before free agency was a splashy move, if not a bit of an overpay. And Golden is a fine rotational pass rusher to keep around. But Green is a low-floor gamble out wide at this point in his career. The Hudson addition helps offset that, giving Arizona a more formidable front."

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