We are already into the thick of the NFL offseason and that means free agency. Teams can’t contact free agents until March 15th, but news of the top players will circulate as we close in on that starting point. Dak Prescott, Richard Sherman, Chris Godwin, Trent Williams, Allen Robinson, Hunter Henry and Kenny Golladay are just a few of the big names set to hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens on March 17th. Many free agents stand a good chance of signing a contract with their current team or being franchise tagged before then, but many will be taking calls when the tampering period opens on March 15th.
2020 in review
A season after Kenyan Drake established himself as the Arizona Cardinals’ lead running back, the fifth-year pro had a somewhat uneven 2020 campaign. While Drake set a new career high in touchdowns (10) and nearly matched his previous best in yards from scrimmage (1,092, just 70 from tying the mark), his efficiency plummeted from 5.2 yards per attempt during his eight games in Arizona during 2019 to a hair under 4.
Still, some of the fault for that lost efficiency belongs to head coach and offensive play-caller Kliff Kingsbury, who struggled to adjust the offense down the stretch when quarterback Kyler Murray battled lower-body injuries. Prior to the final four weeks of the season, Drake averaged more than 4.3 yards per carry.
In a better situation (or an improved one with the Cardinals), Drake could realistically put together his finest season.
Running backs have generally fared poorly in free agency in recent years, and Drake doesn’t seem likely to become the exception. Still, a few teams make sense as landing spots for the veteran back if he leaves the desert. The New York Jets just endured a season with soon-to-be 38-year-old Frank Gore as the lead back, and none of the players behind him demonstrated much in their limited opportunities. The Jets could reboot their backfield with Drake as a key component. The Washington Football Team could use someone to form a tandem with Antonio Gibson, and Drake fits the bill. Perhaps the Atlanta Falcons could also look into Drake given Todd Gurley’s impending departure.
Do the Cardinals want to keep him?
The Cardinals will consider re-signing Drake if his price doesn’t balloon in free agency. Backup Chase Edmonds ran well in relief of Drake and offers more as a receiver. However, Drake’s nose for the goal line — he has recorded 18 touchdowns in his 23 games with the team — remains unique among Arizona’s running backs.
Drake re-signing with the Cardinals could continue the timeshare that limited his and Edmonds’ upside in 2020. However, if Drake departs, Edmonds would become much more attractive to fantasy managers. Drake’s fortunes will remain unclear until he signs his next contract.
While the identity of Drake’s suitors remains unclear, ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss believes the running back’s salary will most likely decline on his next deal. Drake played under the transition tag in 2020 at a cost of $8.4 million.