Trade grades: Opinions mixed on Cardinals’ deal for Kenyan Drake
The Arizona Cardinals had one of two choices: Acquire a running back via a trade or sign one off the free agent market.
The team elected to go with the former option and dealt a conditional sixth-round pick for Miami Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake on Monday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that pick can become a fifth-round pick.
Arizona didn’t have many other options, given that running backs David Johnson (ankle), Chase Edmonds (hamstring) and D.J. Foster (hamstring, placed on IR Monday) are all injured going into a short week in which the team will host the 49ers on Thursday Night Football.
The Cardinals did sign two free agents last week — Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner — so the question now is whether the Cardinals could’ve added to their injured running back group and get a better cost-benefit than what came with trading for Drake, who is a pending free agent. It seems we’ll never know.
With that context in mind, here’s what other football voices are saying about the Cardinals’ trade with Miami:
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell: C-
Barnwell gave the Cardinals a worse grade than the Dolphins, who earned a B in his book. He admitted the Cardinals just needed to “field a full team” after having so many injuries at the running back position.
Is “now” really all that important for the Cardinals, though? It’s hardly as if Drake is expected to swing things on Thursday against an undefeated 49ers team, with San Francisco coming into town as an eight-point favorite. The Cardinals then get 10 days before a trip to play the Buccaneers and a rematch against the 49ers before their bye. It’s unclear whether Edmonds or Johnson will be ready for the Bucs, but with two weeks before that game, I’m not sure the Cardinals realistically know whether they’ll need Drake to shoulder a heavy workload for that contest.
CBS Sports: A-
Written by Jeff Kerr, CBS Sports’ trade grade gave the Cardinals a good mark.
A deal like this had to be done for the Cardinals, given the state of the running back position. […] The Cardinals struck fast in order to acquire Drake, who was the Dolphins’ leading rusher with 55.1 percent of the snaps this season, but not used properly in Miami. Drake was averaging a career low 3.7 yards per carry in 47 carries, having just 174 yards and no touchdowns this year. This is behind the Dolphins offensive line, so it’s hard to examine how effective Drake has been, but he’s a starting caliber running back.
Sports Illustrated: B-
Sports Illustrated’s trade grades weren’t too harsh on the Cardinals, but didn’t give the team overwhelming praise, either.
Oddly aggressive despite their 3-4-1 record, Arizona is looking to immediately replace the production they’ve lost at the position due to injuries. Drake is better than what is out on the free agent market right now.
A conditional sixth that can turn into a fifth, according to NFL.com, might be a little bit high if Drake ends up lighting it up this year, however, it’s obvious that GM Steve Keim is working to quickly legitimize this experiment with Kliff Kingsbury. The team is better than many expected at this point already.