D.J. Humphries

Cardinals Waive DT Kevin Strong, Place Two On IR

The Cardinals made a bit of a surprising move today heading into their 2023 season finale. Despite dealing with multiple injuries along the defensive line, Arizona opted to waive defensive tackle Kevin Strong today. This came on the heels of rookie sixth-round defensive tackle Dante Stills being placed on injured reserve, along with starting left tackle D.J. Humphries, who tore his ACL last weekend.

With Stills joining four other defensive linemen on IR, the Cardinals cutting Strong becomes even more surprising. Strong had played an important role throughout the 2023 NFL season, filling in multiple times for injured starters. Over the course of the year, Strong appeared in 14 games, making 11 starts.

Strong didn’t always perform at a top level, grading out as the league’s 102nd best interior defender out of 121 players graded, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), but his absence digs an even deeper hole in terms of the team’s depth at the position. With Strong and Stills out, Phil Hoskins, Naquan Jones, and Roy Lopez are the team’s only healthy defensive linemen on the 53-man roster.

With three roster spots opening up, the Cardinals filled one today by signing cornerback Divaad Wilson from the practice squad to the active roster. Wilson is an undrafted rookie out of UCF who spent most of this season on the practice squad. He made his NFL debut as a practice squad callup in a Week 12 loss to the Rams and got to start the following week in Pittsburgh. This will be the third game appearance of his career.

Cardinals LT D.J. Humphries Suffers ACL Tear

D.J. Humphries had bounced back from an injury-limited 2022 season, lining up at left tackle in 15 games this year. But his 2024 offseason will include extensive rehab after another injury.

Jonathan Gannon confirmed Wednesday (via ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss) the ninth-year blocker suffered a torn left ACL. Humphries will head to IR and need surgery. The timing of this injury, as Kyler Murray‘s 2022 ACL tear did, creates questions about Humphries’ availability to start next season.

A back injury limited Humphries to eight games last season, one that saw an aging Cardinals O-line decimated by injuries. Humphries, 30, returned to practice this summer and has protected Murray’s blind side since the Pro Bowl quarterback returned at the midseason point. Humphries is under contract for the 2024 season, but a stay on the reserve/PUP list could come to pass by September.

Drafted in the 2015 first round, Humphries is one of the longest-tenured O-linemen in Cardinals history and one of the longest-tenured players in the franchise’s Arizona years. Since debuting in 2016, Humphries has started 98 games. That puts him 12 away from moving into the top 10 among O-line starts for the 100-plus-year old organization. Before he can move past 100 career Cards starts, Humphries will be on the shelf for a while.

The Cardinals have given Humphries three contracts. The most recent, agreed to during the summer of 2022, runs through the 2025 season. Humphries’ three-year, $51MM deal checked in a bit below expectations, given where the LT market was at the time, but it provided $32MM in total guarantees. All of Humphries’ fully guaranteed money has been paid out, however. While he would be entitled to a small amount by way of injury protection, the Cardinals could consider a 2024 cut and pick up more than $15MM in cap space (via a post-June 1 designation). Though, it is too early to make assumptions there.

Humphries signed all three of his Cardinals contracts during Steve Keim‘s GM run. Monti Ossenfort‘s first draft choice as a GM went to a tackle, Paris Johnson, whom the team placed on the right side opposite Humphries. Johnson closed his college career at left tackle. The team traded Humphries’ 2022 injury fill-in, Josh Jones, to the Texans in August. The team still has Kelvin Beachum as potential insurance, having re-signed the veteran to a two-year, $5.2MM deal in March.

The Florida alum had struggled with injuries during his early years but stabilized his career in 2019, beginning a three-season stretch of 16-game seasons. The 2021 campaign, which snapped a Cardinals playoff drought, produced a Pro Bowl berth. But injuries have again stalled Humphries. With ACL recoveries generally requiring at least nine months of rehab, Humphries’ availability for the ’24 campaign will need to be monitored over the offseason.

Cards LT D.J. Humphries Returns To Practice

Cardinals left tackle D.J. Humphries returned to the practice field for voluntary OTAs last week, per Darren Urban of the team’s official website. Humphries missed the second half of the 2022 season due to a back injury.

Humphries, a 2021 Pro Bowler, acknowledged that he “had to roll the dice a little bit” in electing to forego back surgery in favor of rehab. As of the time of this writing, he is not quite back to full strength, but he remains on track to suit up for Week 1 of the regular season.

Humphries’ shortened season was one of many difficulties that the Cardinals faced in 2022, and it was a disappointing setback for a player who dealt with significant injury issues in the early stages of his career but who had missed only one contest — a COVID-related absence — from 2019-21.

That newfound durability, along with generally solid play as Arizona’s blindside blocker, allowed Humphries to land multiple three-year contracts from the Cards. His current deal, which he signed last August and which was restructured in March, keeps him under club control through 2025.

Arizona did select Ohio State tackle Paris Johnson Jr. with the No. 6 pick of this year’s draft, and it is still rostering 2020 third-rounder Josh Jones, who played well at left tackle in Humphries’ absence last season. Nonetheless, Urban expects Humphries to reclaim the starting LT job, with Johnson beginning his professional career on the right side.

Even a rebuilding outfit like Arizona benefits from a quality left tackle, and assuming he can stay healthy, Humphries is exactly that. He also comes at a reasonable price, as he is due under $16MM per season over the 2024-25 seasons. Thanks to the above-referenced restructure, Humphries is earning just $5.5MM in base salary in 2023, though that is because a chunk of his salary was converted to a signing bonus for cap purposes.

Unless they were to make him a post-June 1 cut or trade next year, the Cardinals cannot now feasibly extricate themselves from Humphries’ contract until the end of the 2024 season. That suggests that the club, like the player himself, did not worry that the back injury would be a career-threatening one, and that Humphries could remain on the roster for the foreseeable future.

Arizona’s three-day mandatory minicamp begins on Tuesday, at which point we may have more clarity on the team’s plans with respect to Humphries and Johnson.

Restructure Details: Armstead, Dolphins, Hill, Chubb, Chargers, WRs, Ravens, Pierce, Panthers, Moton, Jets, Cardinals, Eagles, Vikings

Teams have until 3pm CT Wednesday — the start of the 2023 league year — to move under the $224.8MM salary cap. With the legal tampering period beginning at 3pm Monday, teams are working to create cap space for free agency pursuits. Here are the latest maneuvers teams have made on that front:

  • The Dolphins have created more than $43MM in cap space over the past two days, being the runaway leaders on this front this week. They agreed to restructures with Bradley Chubb and Terron Armstead to free up $25MM-plus, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates (Twitter links), but they are also using Tyreek Hill‘s receiver-record contract to create room. Miami created $18MM in space by restructuring Hill’s $30MM-AAV deal, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Hill was due a $16MM roster bonus; that and most of his 2023 base salary have been shifted into a signing bonus. Chubb’s base salary is now down to $1.1MM in 2023.
  • Rather than trade Keenan Allen to carve out cap space, Chargers GM Tom Telesco firmly opted against that strategy. The Bolts are keeping Allen, and both he and Mike Williams‘ 2024 cap numbers will balloon. The team freed up $14MM-plus in 2023 cap space by restructuring both their $20MM-per-year wide receiver deals, per Yates. While new funds are available for 2023, Williams and Allen are now tied to $32.5MM and $34.7MM cap numbers in 2024 (Twitter links). Neither should be expected to play on those numbers, which will undoubtedly lead to more maneuvers down the road.
  • The Panthers freed up more than $11MM in cap room by restructuring Taylor Moton‘s deal, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. This marks the second straight year Carolina has adjusted Moton’s contract. A Xavier Woods tweak also added $1.5MM to Carolina’s cap space, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.
  • Michael Pierce accepted a $2MM pay cut to remain with the Ravens, Pelissero tweets. The move added $2.7MM in funds, Yates tweets. Pierce, who returned to the Ravens in 2022, can earn the money back via incentives. Pierce missed most of last season due to a biceps tear.
  • Pierce’s former team, the Vikings, took the same path with Ross Blacklock. The 2022 trade acquisition accepted a near-$700K slash which he can earn back via incentives, Pelissero adds (on Twitter).
  • D.J. Humphries missed much of the 2022 season, and while the Cardinals have a new regime in place, they are not moving their veteran left tackle. They will use Humphries’ 2022 extension to free up funds, with Pelissero noting (via Twitter) the Cards created $5.3MM in cap space with this restructure. Arizona has moved past $32MM in cap space. More could be coming via a DeAndre Hopkins trade as well.
  • C.J. Uzomah‘s three-year Jets deal became a vehicle for the team to carve out some room. The team freed up $3.6MM in cap space with a recent restructure for the veteran tight end, Pelissero tweets.
  • The Eagles also went to the restructure well Friday, with Yates noting (via Twitter) they are creating $2.5MM in space by adjusting Jake Elliott‘s deal.

D.J. Humphries To Miss Rest Of Season

D.J. Humphries joined Justin Pugh and Rodney Hudson as Cardinals offensive line starters on IR on Saturday. Like Pugh, Humphries’ stay on the injured list will cover the rest of the season.

Kliff Kingsbury said Monday the eighth-year tackle will not return from the back injury that sent him to IR. Humphries made it through eight games this season; he has not played since Arizona’s loss to Seattle in Week 9.

This injury absence comes after the Cardinals locked down Humphries on another three-year extension. Despite being a left tackle starter in his prime, Humphries opted against tabling an extension and testing the 2023 free agent market. He is signed to a three-year, $51MM deal that runs through 2025. Humphries locking in $28.8MM fully guaranteed looks better now than it did this offseason, when the contract made the 28-year-old blocker just the 14th-highest-paid tackle (AAV-wise) in the league.

The former first-round pick’s run of good health during his prime led to the Cardinals giving him three-year deals in both 2020 and 2022, but injuries have been a notable part of Humphries’ career. He missed all of his rookie season, 11 games in 2017 and seven in 2018. The Florida product only ended up missing one contest (due to COVID-19) from 2019-21, setting himself up for multiple paydays. Pro Football Focus rates Humphries as the league’s No. 25 overall tackle this season.

It is easier to name the Cardinals offensive starters who have not missed time due to injury this year, but health issues have been a particular problem up front. Pugh went down with an ACL tear in Week 6; Hudson has been out with a knee injury since Week 4. Both Hudson and Pugh contemplated retirement this offseason, but each moved forward with the team. Arizona trotted out one of the league’s oldest O-lines this season; the veteran unit was much healthier last year.

Former third-round pick Josh Jones has stepped in for Humphries at the blindside post; he will have an extended audition during what is looking like a lost season for a franchise that voyaged to the playoffs in 2021.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/26/22

The league’s minor moves and standard gameday elevations for Week 12:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Cardinals Expected To Activate WR Marquise Brown For Sunday

The Cardinals have not yet had the pleasure this season of fielding all of their top wide receivers in the same game, but they are expected to take a step towards that goal by activating wide receiver Marquise Brown off of injured reserve, according to team senior writer Darren Urban. The update comes from head coach Kliff Kingsbury who said that Brown is expected to play this Sunday.

Brown has been on IR since Week 6 recovering from a foot injury that was initially feared to sideline him for the remainder of the season. Days before, Arizona made the move to acquire Panthers wideout Robbie Anderson, who had had a bit of a falling out with his former team. In the immediate aftermath, the move was considered a one-for-one replacement, as many assumed this indicated a long-term absence for Brown. The team had been operating with Brown as their No. 1 receiving option through the first six weeks of the season. The Cardinals’ true No. 1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, was serving a suspension and would return just in time for Brown to head to IR.

In the weeks since Brown’s injury, Hopkins has regained his role as the team’s top wideout. Last year’s second-round pick Rondale Moore has been asked to step up in Brown’s absence, as has Greg Dortch during certain moments of the season. Veteran receiver A.J. Green has contributed, as well, but not nearly with the output he has in past years. Anderson’s addition has so far proven joyless, as he’s only been targeted seven times through five games with the Cardinals and totaled a whopping negative-four yards on one reception.

The return of Brown this week helps move Arizona towards a healthy collection of their top wide receivers. Brown should step immediately into a No. 2 role behind Hopkins as Moore sits out with what is expected to be a short-term groin injury and Dortch is considered a gametime decision with a thumb injury. If Dortch is unable to go, Hopkins and Brown will be supplemented by only Green and Anderson.

The passing game should also see a big boost as Kingsbury told the media that it’s looking like quarterback Kyler Murray will be able to start this weekend after missing the past two games with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately, Kingsbury also confirmed that the team will be without starting left tackle D.J. Humphries and starting cornerback Byron Murphy.

Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, T D.J. Humphries Out For Week 11

NOVEMBER 21: Confirming previous reports, Josina Anderson of CBS Sports tweets that McCoy will “definitively” get the nod once again tonight. She adds that Murray was never truly in consideration to suit up against the 49ers, but that the Cardinals publicly kept his availability in the air to avoid tipping their hand in the lead-up to the contest.

This will be the second straight absence for Murray, but he may remain sidelined for even longer. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports that the Cardinals may very well rest their starter next week against the Chargers, allowing him to return after their Week 13 bye (Twitter link). Much could depend on the team’s performance during the next two contests as Arizona looks to get back into playoff contention.

NOVEMBER 20: This season has not gone according to plan for the Cardinals, who were 8-2 at this point last season. Things can turn towards a more positive direction with a win over their division opponent, the 49ers, tomorrow night. Unfortunately, they will be attempting to do that without their starting left tackle and potentially without their star quarterback.

Starting left tackle D.J. Humphries has been ruled out for the second-straight game as he continues to deal with back issues, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN. Arizona has quite a few options to replace the veteran on the blindside as they’ve been filling injury-caused holes in their offensive line all year. Starting center Rodney Hudson and starting right guard Will Hernandez are on IR while several others have missed games here and there. Josh Jones, Rashaad Coward, Lecitus Smith, and Cody Ford have all gotten opportunities to fill in with starts. Jones, Coward, and Ford will likely be the ones vying for the left tackle spot as Smith has been at the right guard position in place of Hernandez.

Quarterback Kyler Murray has been limited in practice all week while dealing with a hamstring injury. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury told the media that Murray is “progressing” with his injury and has “come a long way,” according to Weinfuss. Murray will reportedly be a gametime decision for tomorrow night’s game in Mexico City.

If Murray is unable to go, the Cardinals will have Colt McCoy behind center for the second-straight game. McCoy led the team to a win against another division-rival last week when the Cardinals beat the John Wolford-led Rams. While McCoy will technically be facing another backup quarterback tomorrow, Jimmy Garoppolo is a much more capable starting quarterback than Wolford. There were worries that the team would have to turn to third-string quarterback Trace McSorley as McCoy dealt with a knee injury, but after full participation in practice on Friday and Saturday, McCoy should be good to go.

At 4-6, the Cardinals have only one fewer win than the 49ers. A win tomorrow night could be a huge step towards passing San Francisco in the division standings and working towards the NFC’s final Wild Card spot. They’ll be attempting to do so without Humphries, and we’ll find out Murray’s status tomorrow.

Cardinals RB James Conner To Return In Week 9

The Cardinals have been without their top running back for the past three weeks, but their ground game will receive a boost today. James Conner is among the notable players who will be active for Arizona’s Week 9 contest against the Seahawks, as noted (on Twitter) by team reported Darren Urban.

Conner suffered a rib injury in Week 5, and it was expected to cause a multi-week absence. That dealt a blow to the Cardinals’ running game, as the 27-year-old had once again operated as the lead back following his highly-productive debut Arizona season last year. The former Steeler was named a Pro Bowler after scoring 18 total touchdowns and recording 1,127 scrimmage yards.

Things have not gone as well in 2022, however. Conner had yet to top 55 rushing yards in a game prior to the injury, averaging 3.7 yards per carry and finding the endzone just once. Overall, the Cardinals’ offense underperformed during the early portion of the season, as DeAndre Hopkins remained sidelined due to his PED suspension. That led head coach Kliff Kingsbury to acknowledge that he would consider ceding play-calling duties.

Since then, backup Darrel Williams has suffered an MCL sprain, and is currently on IR. That, coupled with Conner’s absence, opened the door to former seventh-rounder Eno Benjamin taking on lead back duties. He totaled 223 scrimmage yards over the past three weeks, but a healthy Conner would likely provide a boost to an Arizona offense averaging 116 yards per game on the ground, ranking them mid-pack.

Conner was limited throughout the week, leading to his being listed as a game-time decision on the weekend. That, in turn, suggests that he will have a limited role for at least today’s game while splitting snaps with Benjamin. Still, his return will be a welcomed sight as the Cardinals look to move out of the NFC West basement. After missing last week’s contest, left tackle D.J. Humphries will also be active.

NFC West Rumors: Seahawks OL, Jackson, Greenlaw, Humphries

With Brandon Shell departing in free agency and Duane Brown and Ethan Pocic now rostered with the Jets and Browns, respectively, the Seahawks have had a bit of work this offseason piecing their offensive line back together. Seattle may even be in the extremely rare position of bookending their offensive line with two rookie tackles, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times.

While Charles Cross has long been expected to start for the Seahawks on the blindside as the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, it appears that third-round pick Abraham Lucas is currently favored to man the tackle spot opposite Cross. The most recent instance of this in the NFL that I could find is back in 2012 when the Cardinals were forced to start seventh-round pick Nate Potter across from fourth-round pick Bobby Massie late in the season. That was a result of some injuries, though. The last time a team started the season with two rookie offensive tackles, I believe, was in 2009 when Jacksonville trotted out in Week 1 with first-round pick Eugene Monroe at left tackle and second-round pick Eben Britton at right tackle.

Additionally, while the Seahawks return Gabe Jackson and Damien Lewis as the starting guards from last year, backup guard Phil Haynes has reportedly been pushing both for playing time this offseason. According to a tweet from ESPN’s Brady Henderson, head coach Pete Carroll had plenty of good things to say about Haynes.

“Phil could start. He plays like a starter,” Carroll extolled. He looks like a starter out there and he’s pushing Gabe, he really is. He’s our guy that’s swinging right and left side right now. If he had to start for either guy right now, I would feel absolutely comfortable…I feel like we’ve got three starting guards right now that we could play and be fine with.”

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC West, starting with a couple rumors from the Bay Area:

  • The 49ers used a second-round pick this year to select Drake Jackson, a big-bodied defensive end out of USC. But they are determined not to limit Jackson to the outside of the line, according to Matt Barrows of The Athletic. San Francisco has been lining Jackson up all over the defensive line this offseason, placing him not only on both ends but at defensive tackle, as well.
  • When the 49ers rush an extra defensive back on the field in passing situations, one of their three starting linebackers is going to have to come off the field. When asked which starting linebacker would stay on the field with Fred Warner in those situations, Barrows posited that it had to be Dre Greenlaw. Barrows went on to say that the only way Azeez Al-Shaair would take hold over the No. 2 linebacker spot in San Francisco is if Greenlaw is injured.
  • Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries recently signed a three-year, $51.76MM extension. According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the deal has a guaranteed amount of $32.82MM consisting of a $17MM signing bonus, the 2022 salary of $3.82MM, $4MM of the 2023 salary, and the 2023 roster bonus of $8.24MM. Additionally, the 28-year-old tackle can earn a per game active bonus of $14,117 for a potential season total of $240,000.