Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals weren’t very good this past year, but the first season of the Kliff Kingsbury/Kyler Murray partnership was by all accounts a modest success relative to expectations. They now have a pivotal offseason ahead of them, and it sounds like locking up Murray’s blindside protector is a priority.

Arizona GM Steve Keim said during a recent radio interview with 98.7 FM that he’s “very optimistic” about the team’s chances of bringing back left tackle D.J. Humphries, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. Keim added that the entire organization is “very confident” that Humphries is “one of the better tackles” in the league. The Cardinals drafted Humphries in the first round back in 2015, and his career got off to a very shaky start.

His rookie season was a disaster, as he couldn’t move past third-string on the depth chart and was inactive for all 16 games. He started his second season at right tackle, starting 13 games. He was the left tackle the following year, but knee issues limited him to only five appearances. In 2018 he started nine games at left tackle before another knee injury ended his season. This past year he finally stayed healthy, starting all 16 contests.

Humphries received solid grades from Pro Football Focus, and the Cards clearly don’t plan on letting him walk. When asked about using the franchise tag on him, Keim indicated he would rather work out an extension. “You always want to tie up your players that you feel good about and you want to come to an agreement moving forward to a longer-term deal than having to use those things,” he said. McManaman thinks that Arizona will have to pay the 26-year-old around $14M annually.

This article first appeared on Pro Football Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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