If the Arizona Cardinals want to get back to the playoffs this year, these five players must improve.
Since losing big to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game, the Arizona Cardinals have gone 15-16-1 over the last two seasons while missing the playoffs in each campaign. The retirements of coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer shook things up a little this offseason, but Larry Fitzgerald is back for at least one more season.
Steve Wilks is taking over as head coach, and either Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen will be replacing Palmer under center. The balance of power has shifted in the NFC West, with the rise of the Rams last year and 49ers in line to do the same this year, and the Cardinals frankly look like the worst team in the division on paper.
But NFL parity gives every team a chance, and these five Cardinals have to improve for the Cardinals to get back to the playoffs this year.
5. Mike Iupati
After a down year in 2016, Iupati suffered an elbow injury in last year’s season opener and was put on IR before September was over. Talk of the Cardinals moving on from him this offeason eventually yielded a pay cut, which also voided the final year of Iupati’s contract.
Iupati made it four straight Pro Bowl selections during his first season with the Cardinals in 2015. But he has been banged up or less effective since, and now this year is essentially a make-or-break contract year for him.