TEMPE, Ariz. — To trade or not to trade: For the Arizona Cardinals sitting at No. 3 in this year’s NFL draft, that is the question.

Until the first round kicks off on April 27 (8 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC, ESPN App), the Cardinals will mull whether they should stay put at No. 3 or entertain any of the six calls (so far) they’ve received from teams interested in trading up.

It all depends on who’s asked, but the argument can be made for both options: staying put for the best prospect or accumulating more picks to help jump-start a roster rebuild. Arizona started the offseason with 30 in-house free agents. They brought back nine of them and added 11 new free agents.

The Cardinals’ new brain trust of coach Jonathan Gannon and general manager Monti Ossenfort talk daily about their options at No. 3, and those talks have left Gannon feeling “good” about the team’s mindset.

That includes moving down, perhaps significantly, which Gannon said he’s “absolutely” on board with.

“We’ve talked through the pros and cons of that, but I feel very confident with a couple different plans that [Ossenfort] has laid forth. And I’m behind him 100%, and I know he’s gonna do whatever he can in his role to help our group win,” Gannon said.

Former NFL general manager and executive Mike Tannenbaum, now an ESPN analyst, argues Arizona should trade the pick and stockpile future selections. He doesn’t think the Cardinals, who are coming off a 4-13 season, are a player or two away from turning themselves into a contender. Acquiring as much draft capital as possible could be beneficial in 2024 when Tannenbaum said Arizona may want some sort of “Kyler Murray insurance” in case the new regime wants to go in a different direction from its current starting quarterback.

A front office source from another team put it more bluntly.

“If I’m them, you try like hell to trade it,” the source said. “But if you’re left there you can at least get, [Alabama linebacker] Will Anderson and have a defensive piece — like a young, productive player that can be the cornerstone of a defense.”

Anderson had 27.5 sacks over the past two years for the Crimson Tide. The Cardinals lost their two sack leaders from last season in J.J. Watt (retirement) and Zach Allen (free agency).

“I don’t know what’s better: trading it or getting him because I have a hard time thinking that unless Indy trades up to keep somebody else from jumping them for a quarterback, I don’t know if anybody’s gonna jump up to draft one of these quarterbacks at No. 3,” the source said.

The assumption is that quarterbacks C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young will be taken with the first two picks to the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans. Should the Indianapolis Colts want to move up one spot from No. 4 to get their QB of choice, Tannenbaum believes the third pick is worth two second-round picks in addition to swapping first-round picks. Tannenbaum would want to have a “premium pick” in 2024 for that quarterback insurance. The front-office source thinks the Cardinals can get a second-round pick next year and a fourth-round pick this year.

The furthest Tannenbaum would want to drop back, if he were calling the shots for the Cardinals, would be No. 5 because he thinks the four teams ahead of them would all likely be looking for quarterbacks.

ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller thinks Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson has helped increase the value of the Cardinals’ pick at No. 3.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on teams … to slide up,” Miller said. “I do think Arizona is in a great spot to say, ‘Either, we’re gonna draft the best defender in this class,’ whomever they think that is, or, ‘We can trade out a little bit.’”

That could leave Arizona with Anderson, widely considered the best defensive player in the draft.

“He is a good player,” Gannon said of Anderson. “There’s a lot of good players out there. I don’t really look at a guy’s value as far as when would you pick him, when would you want? I kind of look at, ‘Hey, do we want this guy? Can he help us win? Does he have the right type of character and, can he help us win, basically?’

“So that’s kind of the buckets I put ’em in and then Monti handles the rest.”

Aside from Anderson, Tannenbaum thinks Illinois cornerback Devon Witherspoon and Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez could also be in play in the top five. The Cardinals lost their top corner, Byron Murphy Jr., in free agency. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said Witherspoon is the most complete cornerback in the draft.

If the Cardinals were going to trade the pick, why haven’t they yet?

It could be because teams are still in the information-gathering phase, albeit the homestretch. Take Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter as an example. Based on talent, he could be in the conversation for a top-5 pick, Tannenbaum said. But Carter pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and racing last month in connection with a fatal crash in January. He also couldn’t finish his position drills and didn’t participate in other drills at his pro day after showing up nine pounds heavier than he was at the NFL combine.

Teams will keep monitoring Carter up until the start of the first round, and that could play into the Cardinals’ hand.

“You don’t really know what’s gonna happen there and that could impact how a team views the value of that pick,” Tannenbaum said of the Cardinals’ No. 3 spot.

As Gannon and Ossenfort continue to meet daily, the offers for the third pick will continue to come in.

And they’ll continue to discuss what they should do: Stay put or move down.

“The one thing like you hate doing in the draft is chasing a position,” the front office source said. “Like there’s drafting for need, but when you’re drafting in the top 10, you draft the best player.”

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Cardinals’ draft dilemma: Stay at No. 3 for best prospect or trade down – Arizona Cardinals Blog