The Cardinals have been full of surprises in 2019. From hiring Kliff Kingsbury to drafting Kyler Murray to winning three in a row, the Cardinals have been keeping the NFL on their heels.
But their surprise decision to trade a conditional 6th rounder in the 2020 NFL Draft that could become a 5th rounder for Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake feels less like a someone-jumping-out-of-a-cake kind of surprise and more like the I-just-stepped-in-something-wet-in-bare-feet kind of surprise. In other words, not the good kind.
Sure, the Cardinals clearly have a dire, immediate need for a RB after Chase Edmonds injured his hamstring against the Saints and David Johnson remains shelved until at least week 10 with his injuries but a GM’s job is to see the forest through the trees and not let short term problems disrupt a long term plan.
Kenyan Drake is a backup NFL RB having never started more than 7 games in a season and most recently backing up Frank Gore and Kallen Ballage in Miami. He’s also a free agent at the end of the season, providing the Cardinals with nothing more than a very temporary reprieve from their injured RB problem.
The Cardinals have one of the worst rosters in football and no realistic chance of making the playoffs. After using analytics to justify his terrible 4th and 1 decision on Sunday, Kliff Kingsbury should know that analytics state the Cardinals have just a 0.3% chance of making the NFL playoffs and that feels generous in the NFC West
This team needs all the draft picks they can get.
Last year, out of 35 5th round selections, 17 have played in six or more games for their respective teams. 28 have played in at least one game. A 5th rounder can be a real contributor.
The Cardinals have a pair of 5th round safeties playing major minutes in Deionte Thompson and Jalen Thompson.
This is a team that should be hoarding so many draft picks that they end up on a TV show.
The other justification some have used for the trade is it gives Kyler Murray a fighting chance. If your #1 concern as a franchise is the well being and success of Kyler Murray, a backup RB ain’t gonna get the job done. How about trading for a tackle? Or a WR?
Alfred Morris, Spencer Ware and Jay Ajayi could all likely do the work of Drake and don’t cost a draft pick.
And no, the Cardinals aren’t just going to magically recoup the draft pick as a comp pick when Kenyan Drake leaves as a free agent. With over $70 million to spend, the odds are the Cardinals add a lot more players than they watch leave, leaving their comp pick status for 2021 in serious doubt.
Also, let’s put this to rest: David Johnson isn’t getting traded.
His skill set is perfect for this offense and the team clearly needs both a healthy Edmonds AND a healthy Johnson. This isn’t fantasy football where you have to pick one or the other, the Cardinals needs both.
Plus, Johnson has a $10.2 million dollar guaranteed base salary this year. Kind of a deal breaker for, well, every team.
So to summarize, the Cardinals traded a valuable draft pick for a RB that may be a backup as recently as next week while having a roster in dire need of as many draft picks as possible.
On Sunday, the Saints reminded Cardinals fans how far they have to go before they are considered an NFC contender and on Monday, Steve Keim reminded everyone why they’ll likely never get there as long as he is GM.