Arizona Cardinals starting cornerback Robert Alford's torn pectoral muscle in training camp put the team in a bind. The regular season was approaching, and they were short at corner.
So, general manager Steve Keim signed eight-year defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick. The veteran provided Arizona someone with plenty of NFL experience, playoff games and an understanding of defensive coordinator Vance Joseph's system, having worked together in Cincinnati.
However, it became evident why he was more of an on-the-fly fill-in rather than an ideal solution.
Kirkpatrick struggled in coverage for most of the season. His Pro Football Focus score was 49, ranking 105th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks.
This led to him getting targeted a lot.
Opposing quarterbacks threw his way 94 times, fourth-most of anybody who played in 14 games during the season. His PFF coverage grade was 46.1, as he allowed the fourth-highest completion percentage (66 percent) out of the 15 players with at least 94 targets.
He especially struggled to contain the short and intermediate passing game, like slants and out routes. This was apparent in the first outing against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 7, when receiver Tyler Lockett got the better of him several times.
Kirkpatrick also finished the year with four pass interference calls against him, most on the team, and had seven flags in total.
He had some moments of success, though, as he had three interceptions, tied for the team lead, which came during a five-game period in the middle of the season.
His coverage was at its best in Weeks 12 and 13, as the former performance against New England saw him earn a PFF coverage grade of 80.8. He had a key interception in the fourth quarter, but Arizona lost regardless.
Moment of the year: In Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills, Kirkpatrick dived in front of receiver Gabriel Davis on a deep cross for an interception. The Cardinals led 26-23 with just over 4:30 left in the game, so that takeaway gave them a shot to ice the win.
Contract: Kirkpatrick signed for one season and will be off the books at the start of the 2021 league year. Cornerback will be a need for the Cardinals this offseason, with Kirkpatrick, Patrick Peterson and Kevin Peterson becoming free agents.
Season performance grade: D-plus
Bring him back?: No.