It’s hard to look anywhere else than the quarterback situation when posturing the 2012 season for the Arizona Cardinals. The franchise seemingly has the pieces in place both offensively and defensively to contend regularly in the NFC West, but have heavily loaded their salary cap with a hope and a prayer that QB Kevin Kolb is a) a legitimate franchise leader, and b) can remain healthy, once he fully recovers from 2011 concussions.
The Cardinals offensive cap figures will always raise an eyebrow as long as Larry Fitzgerald remains active. The all-pro receiver is set to count $13.25 million against the cap this year, nearly double any other player on the team. Kolb carries a $4.9 million cap hit, fairly low compared to the pressure on him to be great this season.
The running back core includes Beanie Wells ($2.9 million) entering the final year of his rookie deal (2013 club option) and Ryan Williams ($1.1 million) entering a sophomore, and potential breakout season.
The offensive line was below average in 2011. Long-time left tackle Levi Brown has been given a final chance to show he can protect a quarterback, as a restructure contract lowered his 2012 cap hit from $14.55 million to $2.65 million – a figure that will jump to $6.4 in 2013 should the Cardinals choose to stay with him. Rookie tackle Bobbie Massie ($500,000) should find himself starting on the right side, and may be asked to do more should the line continue to under-produce.
The Cardinals have managed to keep a vastly underrated defense intact the past few seasons. And that trend continues with the recent extension of S Adrian Wilsonwho’s new deal drops his 2012 cap hit from $7.55 million to $3.45 million.
Alongside long-time fixture Wilson, the secondary should remain dynamic with Patrick Peterson ($4.188 million).