The salary cap, production demands and the life expectancy of players makes change an annual part of NFL rosters. Despite the perception that the Cardinals will simply be building on last season's success, Arizona could have as many as seven new starters on offense and five on defense from the team that left the field in 2013.
Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals camp preview: Impact newcomers
The Cards tried to shore up their greatest needs while holding onto their greatest assets. With the exceptions of inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, they succeeded with the latter. Only time will tell how well they managed the former. Here is a look at five key newcomers who are expected to make major impacts this season. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports
Left tackle Jared Veldheer
He'll be under greater scrutiny than any newcomer with the possible exception of cornerback Antonio Cromartie. His predecessors, Levi Brown and Bradley Sowell, didn't pan out, and a litany of quarterbacks paid for their lack of prowess (and their own inadequacies). Veldheer has the added advantage of having played with QB Carson Palmer in Oakland, and many analysts believe he is a breakout star in the making. Cardinals fans will approach that hyperbole with a healthy dose of skepticism. They've been burned here before.
Left guard Jonathan Cooper
He's not a newcomer, he just feels like one. Cooper broke his leg last preseason and missed the entire regular season. His athleticism isn't back quite to where it was during 2013 training camp, but he's on track to start the regular season alongside Veldheer, giving the franchise renewed hope that it may finally produce an elite offensive line.
Tight end John Carlson
Rob Housler, you are officially on notice. Coach Bruce Arians wants production from his tight end position, and Housler has been sooooo inconsistent. Carlson looked good in shorts during OTAs, and the Cards like the possibilities of teaming him with Jake Ballard and draft pick Troy Niklas. If Housler can realize the potential that made the previous regime draft him, the Cards could have enviable depth at the NFL's trendiest offensive position. (Bruce Yeung/Yeung Photography)
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie
Health will be the main area to watch with Cromartie. A nagging hip injury limited him last season, although he still made the Pro Bowl. He looked fully recovered in offseason workouts, but training camp will provide a better read. At 30, Cromartie has plenty left in the tank. If he stays healthy, he and Patrick Peterson will give defensive coordinator Todd Bowles a whole lot of options, including moving Jerraud Powers to nickel back, where he seems like a good fit. Photo: Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports
Strong safety Deone Bucannon
The Cardinals surprised some folks when they took the hard-hitting Washington State safety in the first round, but the move made sense. Yeremiah Bell had a mediocre year as Adrian Wilson's replacement, and this position was victimized often by tight ends in 2013 -- the Cardinals' defensive Achilles heel. Arizona has Rashad Johnson as a security blanket in case Bucannon takes some time learning the defense, but the hope is he will pair with Tyrann Mathieu sometime early in the season to give the Cardinals a formidable safety duo to complement cornerbacks Peterson and Cromartie.
OLB Karlos Dansby (free agency, Cleveland); ILB Daryl Washington (season-long suspension); DB Antoine Cason (free agency, Carolina); RB Rashard Mendenhall (retired); WR Andre Roberts (free agency, Washington); KR/CB Javier Arenas (free agency, Atlanta); SS Yeremiah Bell (free agent)
LT Jared Veldheer (free agency); TE John Carlson (free agency); CB Antonio Cromartie (free agency); SS Deone Bucannon (first-round draft pick); ILB Larry Foote (free agency); WR Ted Ginn Jr. (free agency); RB Jonathan Dwyer (free agency) Photo: Ross D. Franklin / AP
More Cardinals: Growing expectations
Despite some obvious concerns, the expectation level is ratcheted up in Year 2 of the Bruce Arians regime, thanks to last year's fast finish that saw the Cardinals win seven of their final nine games while growing more comfortable with their new coach's system.
Read More. Photo: Ross D. Franklin