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5 burning questions the Arizona Cardinals must answer in 2021

The Cardinals have plenty of looming uncertainty after a disappointing 8-8 season last year.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — My, oh my, football is back, and we can all be happy about that!

However, the Arizona Cardinals have plenty of looming uncertainty after a disappointing 8-8 season last year. 

Now, Arizona is regrouping with some new free-agent additions and a draft class with some immediate impact potential. So what can we expect from this year's team?

You can watch the Cardinals face off against the Dallas Cowboys in the preseason opener on 12 News on TV! Kickoff is at 7 p.m. It will not be streamed online.

Here are five questions the Cards must answer:

Where’s Larry Legend?

The most famous face in all of Arizona sports won’t be suiting up in Cardinal red and white for the first time in 17 years. Larry Fitzgerald is still technically a free agent as he remains mum on his potential retirement.

His dad tweeted a cryptic “you believe in miracles?” message on Wednesday, but there’s still no definite answer for when Fitzgerald will make a decision. For the team’s part, the Cards have made it clear they’d love to have Larry Legend back.

The soon-to-be-38-year-old wideout posted the lowest numbers of his career last season after racking up just 409 receiving yards and one touchdown. He also missed several games after testing positive for COVID-19.

Fitzgerald won't be the number one option with DeAndre Hopkins on the roster, but he would still bring much-needed leadership to the squad.

This may be the future Hall of Famer's last - and best - shot to earn the championship ring he deserves.

How about one last ride, Larry?

RELATED: Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald still a no-show at training camp; announces radio show with Tom Brady

Can this team keep up in a loaded NFC West?

The Cards made some of the biggest splashes of the offseason after signing JJ Watt along with a slew of veteran talent to shore up its roster, but the NFC West is arguably the most competitive division in the entire league.

The Los Angeles Rams made a major upgrade at signal-caller after trading away Jared Goff for Matt Stafford, and Aaron Donald remains a defensive freight train.

The San Francisco 49ers are just one season removed from a Super Bowl appearance and look mostly healthy with a strong rookie QB in Trey Lance – perhaps even worthy of starting over Jimmy Garoppolo.

Oh, and Russell Wilson is still Russell Wilson.

It’s entirely possible for a club to rack up 10 or more wins and miss the playoffs in this division. So, while the Cards made clear upgrades, a marginal improvement over .500 just won’t cut it.

RELATED: New video shows JJ Watt in Cardinals gear for first time

Is Kingsbury on the hot seat?

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury notched a mediocre 35-40 record after six seasons at Texas Tech, but the Cardinals brass clearly saw potential in the young coach.

After taking the reigns from an utterly hapless Steve Wilks, Kingsbury’s 5-10-1 record in his first year in Arizona was easy to defend.

But an 8-8 campaign last year puts him under the microscope. 

With big off-season additions, the Cardinals have the talent and experience to make it to the postseason for the first time since 2015. 

A championship isn't a pipe dream. The pieces are there if Kingsbury can put it all together.

RELATED: Will the Arizona Cardinals have a postseason? Here are the questions the team must answer

Can Kyler flourish in year three?

If the jaw-dropping “Hail Murray” proved anything, it’s that 2019’s top draft pick has the arm to be a threat from any range. His rushing ability was never in doubt and drew comparisons to Russell Wilson from day one.

This is the year Murray must translate his incredible talent into consistent wins.

Murray battled through a shoulder injury in the latter half of the season, and while he argued that it didn’t hamper him as much as people believed, the numbers don't lie. Arizona lost six of nine games after the bye week.

In the end, his second season in the league was a modest improvement over his rookie campaign with 3,971 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over 3,722 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2019.

There can no longer be any excuses. In his third year in the NFL, Murray must elevate his game and become the elite, franchise quarterback he should be.

RELATED: The 'Hail Murray' and more: 10 of the biggest Arizona sports moments in 2020

Does Arizona have its kicker?

Gone is Zane Gonzalez. The former ASU star couldn’t translate his success in college into the big leagues (although he’ll get another chance to prove himself in Detroit).

In his place is a stud of a kicker in Matt Prater who holds the current NFL record for the longest successful field goal at 64-yards along with the most 50+ yard scores.

The 37-year-old veteran brings much-needed range and accuracy to a squad that lost three games by a single field goal last year.

RELATED: Cardinals sign veteran kicker Matt Prater to 2-year deal

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