There’s no debate about which move by the Arizona Cardinals stands as the best so far this offseason.
Acquiring an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and dumping running back David Johnson’s deal on the Houston Texans killed two birds with one stone.
As for their worst transaction in the past week, Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash sees the move which preceded that blockbuster trade as, in a way, negating its impact in terms of money allocation.
In an exercise to pick the best and worst deals in the past week by every NFL team, Treash criticized Arizona’s decision to transition tag running back Kenyan Drake.
Considering the transition tag on Kenyan Drake comes with a cost of around $8 million, this wasn’t a great move. He was just the 25th most valuable running back of the 2019 season, yet he will be the sixth highest paid. Drake does bring some solid receiving ability to the table, as he recorded a 76.3 receiving grade from Week 9 and on with the Cardinals, which ranked among the 10 best at the position. Still, the juice is not worth the squeeze.
PFF’s rankings may not have liked Drake, but it should be pointed out that for one reason or another, they also did not favor the run-blocking of most of his offensive linemen.
Still, the Cardinals were one of three teams to average better than 5.0 yards per carry. The mobility of quarterback Kyler Murray helped that as did that of signal-caller Lamar Jackson with the Baltimore Ravens, but the running back production from Arizona’s wasn’t bad at all in 2019.
Drake was tied for eighth as a running back averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the 2019 season, and his 5.2 yards per tote average in eight games with the Cardinals would’ve ranked third among running backs for the season.
Indeed, a transition tag that locks Drake in for one year and $8.5 million is a hefty price for the Cardinals to shell out considering multiple-time Pro Bowlers in Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon each got less annually in free agency this week.
PFF, in general, has been quite against valuing running backs so highly and believe it’s prudent to fill running back rooms with mid-round draft picks to undrafted free agents.
Maybe Treash could see the Cardinals handing the starting running back job to Chase Edmonds, who averaged 5.1 yards per carry and piled up 303 yards with four touchdowns in limited action last season.
The positive news for Arizona is that, while Drake could still agree to a long-term deal, the large salary currently owed to him is only for one year.
So if that’s the Cardinals’ worst move, they’re probably not in that bad of shape at all.