The free-agency period has been good one way or another for every NFL team. Hence, it’s time to take a look at the positives in our newest series for End Zone Score. Which newcomer to the club was the franchise’s best offseason move and why? We got things started with the 2016 last-place teams in the eight divisions. You can get caught up on the entire series by clicking right here. Now we are onto the clubs that finished third. And that means the Arizona Cardinals are in the spotlight.
PK Phil Dawson
After three consecutive 10-plus win campaigns, including a team-record 13 victories in 2015, a lot of things came apart for Bruce Arians’ team this past season. An erratic year by quarterback Carson Palmer did not help. The veteran signal-caller totaled 18 of the team’s 28 turnovers. His completion percentage slipped to 61.0 (down from 63.7) and one season after throwing a franchise-record 35 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions, he fell to 26 scores and 14 picks in 15 outings.
However, Palmer is back for another season in position to make amends. That’s not the case when it comes to placekicker Chandler Catanzaro. He’s now a member of the New York Jets. But he suffered through a forgettable 2016 with the Cards. He connected on 21-of-28 field goal attempts. But those seven misses came at some real inopportune times, most notably in a home loss to the New England Patriots and a dreadful 6-6 overtime tie with the Seattle Seahawks. All told, the Cardinals’ special teams were a real mess. And that’s being kind.
Enter Phil Dawson, who became available when the new-look San Francisco 49ers signed veteran kicker Robbie Gould. He’s quietly become one of the league’s all-time leaders at his position. The 18-year pro, who spent his first 14 seasons with the Cleveland Browns, ranks 15th in NFL history in points scored (1,698) and 10th in field goals (404). He gives the Arizona Cardinals a highly-reliable option in what proved to be a problem area in 2016.