Cardinals Likely to Lose Running Back Kenyan Drake in Free Agency

Howard Balzer

Free agency has often been called “the silly season” in the NFL because history tells us the vast dollars spent to lure players from one team to another rarely pays off.

Which brings us to the case of Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake, who turned 26 in January. The Cardinals would welcome the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder back, but they realize he will likely be a target for other teams. But, at what price?

There has been speculation that Drake is seeking a deal worth $8 million a year. However, the market for his position can be difficult to predict. After it was announced NFL players had ratified a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the salary cap for 2020 was set at $198.2 million.

As for Drake, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told reporters at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, “He’s certainly a guy we would like to have back, but again not sure what the market is going to do.”

Added head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the Combine, “We’d love to have him back; he’s a perfect fit for our offense. I think he understands that. But I understand the business side of things as well.”

Drake was acquired from the Miami Dolphins in a trade last October for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. The rights the Cardinals sent to Miami were acquired from the Dolphins for quarterback Josh Rosen last year on the second day of the draft after having selected quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick.

In the eight games he played for the Cardinals, Drake rushed for 643 yards (5.2 per attempt) and eight touchdowns, one of which was for 80 yards. However, there was a lack of consistency from game-to-game. His three 100-yard games (110, 137, 166) accounted for 413 yards, which was 64.2 percent of his total. The most he gained in the other five games was 67 yards and there were three games where he produced fewer than 40. Drake’s average per attempt in those five games was 3.7.

Still, Keim spoke glowingly of what Drake brought to the team, “I was really proud to see not only his work ethic, but the skill set he has is so unique. His ability to run, stretch the way he does, ability to catch the ball out of the backfield ... to be able to have him and (running backs) David (Johnson) and Chase (Edmonds) in the backfield really presented some problems for other teams.”

Kingsbury said of that skill set, “He has a burst, a competitive spirit. He came in, picked up the offense quick. I think the opportunity to have the majority of the touches and carry the workload; he seized that opportunity. He had the hot hand, we rode him and couldn’t have been more impressed with what he did for us.”

The reality is, unless the market isn’t what Drake believes it will be, he will be elsewhere for the 2020 season.

One potential landing spot is Detroit, where Chris Burke of The Athletic recently reported, "Kenyan Drake is an obvious one to watch for the Lions since they tried to get him last year."

*Watch the accompanying film review and analysis of Drake by former NFL scout Marc Lillibridge via his Bridge’s Breakdown.*

Comments (1)
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Mason Kern
Mason Kern


Drake will be a coveted target in free agency for sure