The Arizona Cardinals acquired cornerback Javier Arenas in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs on Wednesday. This is a savvy move that will help the team's secondary compete with the explosive offenses in the NFC West.
According to Kent Somers of AZCentral.com, the Cardinals sent fullback Anthony Sherman to the Chiefs in exchange for Arenas and the trade will be official when both players pass their physicals:
Kent Somers @kentsomers
Source confirms #azcardinals receive CB Javier Arenas from KC. Arenas, Sherman must pass physicals2013-5-1 17:31:48
After landing Kevin Minter, Alex Okafor and Tyrann Mathieu in this year's draft, new general manager Steve Keim didn't rest on his laurels. He knew he'd need to continue bringing in talented defensive players to compete within his own division, and Arenas will be a key player for the Cardinals in 2013.
The NFC West is fast becoming the toughest division in the NFL, and the other three teams in the division have all upgraded their offenses significantly since last year:
- The St. Louis Rams added two dynamic receivers in this year's draft—former college teammates Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey—to give Sam Bradford a couple more weapons after signing tight end Jared Cook to a free-agent contract.
- The Seattle Seahawks landed one of the NFL's top playmakers in Percy Harvin in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. With Harvin on the roster, Russell Wilson could be a nightmare to stop if he continues progressing in the same fashion he did last year.
- The San Francisco 49ers landed Anquan Boldin in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens and then drafted tight end Vance McDonald and receiver Quinton Patton. Colin Kaepernick will drive defensive coordinators batty this year.
These offenses are all capable of putting up huge numbers through the air and on the scoreboard.
The only way to combat such explosive attacks is by fielding a defense capable of rushing the quarterback and covering receivers in space.
Arenas is a nickel corner who is capable of covering quick receivers like Harvin, Austin and Bailey. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) gave him a plus-one rating for the 2012 season and ranked him No. 51 out of 113 qualified cornerbacks.
A smaller cornerback, at 5'9" and 197 pounds, Arenas has proven to be a versatile weapon throughout his three-year career. During his time with Kansas City, he logged four sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and 22 passes defended.
The former Alabama product isn't likely to emerge as a dominant defender for the Cardinals. But he is going to give this team a much-needed boost when teams roll out their three- and four-receiver sets—something that happens more and more these days in the NFL.
The Cardinals needed to upgrade their secondary this year, and adding Arenas for the price of an ill-used fullback was a brilliant move to continue building this team.
Now Arizona still may not be a playoff team in 2013. But if Keim continues to make smart decisions like we've seen from him since he took over, it won't be long before the Cardinals are a contender once again.
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