The Arizona Cardinals have strategically set themselves up heading into the virtual NFL Draft on April 23 by filling multiple holes on both sides of the ball.
One of the biggest question marks entering free agency was at running back. After a breakout year, Kenyan Drake was set to hit the unrestricted market and it was unknown if the Cardinals were going to be able to afford his services. The franchise wound up extending Drake a transition tag, which he signed. That one-year tender is worth $8.483 million.
They subsequently shed David Johnson's contract in the DeAndre Hopkins trade with the Houston Texans.
Chase Edmonds has two years remaining on the four-year deal he signed in 2018 and is scheduled to make $660,000 with a cap charge of $773,089 in 2020 according to OverTheCap.com. In his second NFL season last year, Edmonds played in 13 games making two starts for the Cardinals, rushing for 303 yards on 60 attempts (5.1 average) and four touchdowns. He also recorded 105 yards on 12 receptions (8.8 average) and one touchdown through the air.
"We're really excited about those two guys, Kenyan and Chase," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a videoconference with reporters on Tuesday. "When Chase had his opportunity he was phenomenal and we all saw what Kenyan did. So two explosive backs, played at a very high level and had their opportunity, but that third spot we'll see."
One option for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart is Foster, who was dealing with a hamstring issue for a majority of last season and has been utilized in a core special-teams role in his two years with the franchise after spending his rookie year with the New England Patriots. He was re-signed to a one-year deal with Arizona in free agency.
"D.J. was banged up last year," Kingsbury said. "We think he has a good skill set. But that's an area that we'd like to have three. You saw we got to (using) a third (running back in 2019). We'd like to have three that we feel like we could roll through and not lose much."
While depth and more competition is an area that Kingsbury and the Cardinals will address during and after the draft, they seemingly have their franchise back in Drake. In the eight games he played in Arizona last season, he rushed for 643 yards (5.2 per attempt) and eight touchdowns, one of which was for 80 yards. Of his eight rushing touchdowns in those eight games last season, seven came in the final three games of the year. In Week 15, he scored a career-high four touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns.
"I think he's going to have a higher level of competence, no doubt," Kingsbury said. "Just understanding the system; understanding how we coach; what's expected of him. He did a lot of that on the fly. You see the explosiveness, you see what he can do in space and we have to continue to do a great job of putting him in a situation to be successful. I just think his overall knowledge of the system, comfort level in the system and even living conditions and all those things that help you be a better pro — he should be a lot more comfortable."