The Arizona Cardinals defense was the one bright spot in an otherwise disappointing 2017 season. However, for the second straight offseason there will be a handful of important starters on defense who are free agents. Last offseason the unit lost starters Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, Marcus Cooper, and D.J. Swearinger. This season the names may not be as star-studded, but the importance of these free agents can not be understated. We earlier took a look at the offensive free agents. Today we decide on which defensive free agents the Cardinals should keep or sweep this offseason.
Branch was a starter this season but ended 2017 on injured reserve with a knee injury. The veteran was a solid tackler this season and played well inside the box. Without much depth at the position, it would be wise to bring Branch back for 2018 on $2-$3 million a year contract.
Williams is 34 years old. He took over the second corner spot in week 7 and never looked back. The vet played well and is cheaper than resigning Bethel.
Rucker is a veteran presence on the defensive line who holds the edge well and helps against the run. The veteran defensive end can still play and he should be kept to help groom the young guys on the roster.
Bynes was signed last offseason for depth at linebacker. He provided that as well as special teams work. Bynes has earned his contract.
Martin played more in 2017 than at any other time in his brief career. Martin wrestled playing time away from 2016 first round pick Robert Nkemdiche this season. Martin should expect an offer from the team in free agency.
Bethel has struggled to make an impact since signing a three-year, $15 million contract in 2015. The corner became a second team player in 2017 behind fellow free agent Tramon Williams. At this point it may be time to move on from Bethel.
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Dansby had his best season since his 2013 stop in Arizona. The inside linebacker is getting older at a position that needs to get younger.
Williams was a rotational guy at defensive tackle. The position is crowded but there will be interest. While just 25 years old, it may be time to move on from the youngster for a late round rookie.