Arizona Cardinals building solid secondary in the desert

Arizona Cardinals building solid secondary in the desert

The Arizona Cardinals’ front office is putting together an impressive contingent of defensive backs to compete with in 2019

Just five short months ago, Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals wanted out. The superstar cornerback was disenchanted with the direction of the organization and was demanding to be traded. Thankfully, the Cardinals weren’t willing to accommodate Peterson’s request, and have since made peace with the perennial Pro Bowler.

With Peterson now staying put, the Cards’ front office has been placing some talented defensive backs around him. Players that could provide a tremendous lift for the team’s defense. So much so, in fact, that new coordinator Vance Joseph may end up coaching one of the NFL’s finest secondaries when the 2019 schedule finally gets underway.

Everything starts and ends with Peterson, of course. The 28-year old, who has been voted to eight straight Pro Bowls, is arguably the best cover guy in the league. Peterson regularly shadows the opponent’s best wide receiver and has shown zero signs of slowing down.

Budda Baker has been one of Arizona’s surest tacklers over the past two seasons. General manager Steve Keim made a brilliant move during the 2017 draft, trading up in the second round to nab the safety. In 30 career appearances (20 starts), Baker has racked up 160 tackles and received a Pro Bowl special teamer invite as a rookie.

Robert Alford, who was signed to a three-year, $22.5 million contract back in February, could be management’s most-important offseason acquisition. The veteran, who started 76 games for the Atlanta Falcons, was brought in to solve the Cardinals’ number-two cornerback dilemma. In six pro campaigns, Alford has tallied 295 tackles,10 interceptions, and a whopping 85 pass deflections.

Keim got a head start on the building of the 2019 roster last December. D.J. Swearinger was plucked off of the waiver wire after spending two productive years with the Washington Redskins. The hard-hitting safety will assume a starting role with the Cards, now that Antoine Bethea has found a new home with the New York Giants.

David Amerson, who joined Arizona last November, has 61 professional starts under his belt. The 27-year old has recorded 273 tackles, nine interceptions and 65 pass breakups since being drafted by the Redskins in 2013. Amerson could potentially emerge as one of football’s finest nickel cornerbacks this coming fall.

An under-the-radar signing of Keim’s offense that could pay dividends for the Cardinals is Josh Shaw. The versatile defensive back can play both corner and safety and could earn snaps in Joseph’s nickel and dime packages. Shaw, a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015, has registered 14 pro starts.

The back end of the Cards’ defense is certainly shaping up nicely. In fact, it may be the franchise’s finest group in years. Perhaps Peterson is now thankful that his trade demands failed to come to fruition.

Source: Raising Zona | Jim Koch

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