The Cardinals lost three of arguably their five best players this offseason, and that could make for an ugly transitional period in 2010. Let's take a look at Arizona in the fourth stop of NESN.com's 32-day trek through the NFL.
2009 Record: 10-6, NFC West champions (lost to Saints in divisional round)
2010 Schedule Difficulty: Their opponents went a combined 114-142 (.449 winning percentage) in 2009, which makes for the easiest schedule in the NFL.
Key Additions: Free safety Kerry Rhodes, quarterback Derek Anderson, guard Alan Faneca, outside linebacker Joey Porter, defensive tackle Dan Williams (draft), kicker Jay Feely
Key Losses: Quarterback Kurt Warner, wide receiver Anquan Boldin, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, free safety Antrel Rolle, kicker Neil Rackers
Burning Question: Will Matt Leinart finally earn the starting job? To this point in the Matt Leinart Experiment, his abject failure as a quarterback has been an absolute blessing for the Cardinals, who got everything they could have dreamed of out of Kurt Warner. With Warner's retirement, however, Leinart's freedom to mess around is gone. He was afforded the right to be the butt of every joke because the Cardinals were winning without him. Now that they need him, the jokes have to stop, and Leinart's got to prove he was worth the 10th overall pick in the 2006 draft.
The lefty has played in 29 games, including a 7-10 record in 17 starts, and he has amassed 3,893 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. He'll have to beat out Derek Anderson for the Cardinals' starting job, and if Leinart can't do that, it's only a matter of time until he wonders how many parties he chose in favor of the football field.
2010 Outlook: The Cardinals have made big-time downgrades at quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker, and they've also dropped off at safety. Yeah, they've added some nice pieces to the offensive and defensive lines, but the Cardinals could potentially drop below .500 for the first time since 2006. To avoid such a fate, they've got to pray that Leinart or Anderson can turn the corner in a big way. That can't be a comforting feeling for a team that nearly won the Super Bowl just 16 months ago.