Kenyan Drake’s numbers in eight games with the Arizona Cardinals last year stacked up, so Arizona stacked up the cash this offseason.
They transition-tagged Drake before he signed the tender that pays him $8.5 million to remain with the Cardinals for 2020.
Drake averaged 5.2 yards per pop last year after Arizona acquired him in a trade from Miami, and the numbers beyond his brief time in Arizona suggest he’s already one of the better running backs in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 12th-most elusive back in the NFL last year.
Drake was finally freed last season following his trade to the Cardinals, and the result was the most productive stretch of his career. From Week 9 through the end of the regular season, Drake’s 76.8 overall grade ranked fourth among 54 running backs with 150 or more offensive snaps. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to those who have followed his career. Even in Miami, Drake put up solid efficiency numbers, averaging 3.5 yards after contact per carry and forcing 58 missed tackles on just 253 rushes. It was a lack of volume holding him back, and Drake should get those touches in 2020.
Once traded to Arizona, Drake impressed his new team by picking up the offense quickly. Just a few days after joining the Cardinals, Drake rushed for 110 yards against the 49ers. He put the pedal to the floor in December with a four-touchdown performance against the Browns and a 166-yard game against the Seahawks.
As for the expectations for Drake following Arizona’s offseason trade of David Johnson to the Texans, they’re high. Drake has his first chance in five NFL seasons to be a team’s clear-cut top running back.
“I’m looking forward to, one, putting myself in the best situation; two, be available to be able to do that,” Drake said in May. “I had I guess a couple injuries in college that prohibited from me being available on the field. Since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been fairly healthy.
“I’m really just trying to put my body in a situation where I can take a load or get X amount of carries or touches in general.”