PFF: LB Devon Kennard a prime cut candidate for Cardinals

Feb 27, 2021, 12:48 PM | Updated: 8:02 pm
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker De...

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Devon Kennard (42) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Devon Kennard’s play didn’t match his price in 2020.

The Arizona Cardinals signed the Phoenix native to a three-year, $20 million deal after he was let go by the Detroit Lions last March. However, the deal didn’t turn out the way the team had hoped and Kennard was named the Cardinals’ ideal cut candidate by Pro Football Focus.

Kennard played just 362 snaps in 2020. While he managed to put up his best pass-rushing grade since 2014, that isn’t saying much, given his 64.0 mark was his first above 60.0 in six seasons.

Despite paying Kennard, the edge rusher only played on 32.64% of available defensive snaps.

With the emergence of Haason Reddick as an every-down outside linebacker and with the expected occasional rush off the edge from 2020 No. 8 overall pick Isaiah Simmons, Kennard becomes expendable for Arizona. Reddick needs to be re-signed first, of course, but that or a franchise tag certainly seems possible.

The Cardinals would save just over $6.5 million by cutting Kennard after June 1 and would only take on a dead-money hit of $1.25 million.

Kennard was out-snapped and outplayed by Markus Golden and Reddick in 2020.

Golden played in 37.51% of defensive snaps for the Cardinals last season and recorded 23 tackles and three sacks in the nine games he spent in Arizona.

After Golden was acquired, Kennard didn’t play over 30% of snaps until Week 17, where he was on the field for 36% of plays.

After getting his fifth-year option declined, Reddick played 78.81% of snaps and recorded a career-high 12.5 sacks.

Simmons emerged more later in the season, serving as an inside linebacker who served as an edge rusher in certain situations. Prior to the Cardinals’ bye week in 2020, Simmons didn’t play in over 25% of snaps in any game. The first-round pick played over 30% of snaps every week after the bye, appearing in over 50% of snaps four times.

While Kennard was out with injury and COVID-19, Dennis Gardeck saw more playing time. Gardeck played over 15% of snaps three times before missing the last two games of the season.

Kennard appeared in 13 games last season, making four starts. He made 19 tackles and recorded three sacks, the second-lowest total of his career.

The linebacker missed two games early in the season due to a calf injury and missed an additional game later in the season due to COVID-19.

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