General manager Steve Keim said Wednesday that the Cardinals want to sign Drake to a long-term contract. Drake signed a one-year transition tender for $8.4 million in late March, creating a July 15 deadline for any negotiations on a longer contract. The Cardinals also are talking with DeAndre Hopkins' agent about a new deal, but Keim suggested the team is mostly focused on the upcoming draft and thus more likely to finalize extensions after the draft concludes April 25. The 26-year-old Drake is primed to head the Arizona backfield in 2020, with only Chase Edmonds and D.J. Foster behind him on the current depth chart. The Cardinals could be in the market for a running back in the middle or late rounds of the draft.
Drake signed his transition tag tender Saturday according to the Cardinals organization. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering the transition tag allowed for the Cardinals to match any sort of offer Drake might have received on the open market. The former Dolphins tailback will headline a new-look offense that now features explosive wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and, perhaps more importantly in terms of Drake's potential production, one that will be absent David Johnson, who was sent to the Texans in the deal that netted the All-Pro wideout.
The Cardinals are placing a transition tag on Drake, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The transition tag doesn't involve any draft pick compensation but does allow the team to match any offer sheet. It's a strong indication the Cardinals intend to keep Drake, be it through their own negotiations or by matching a deal he signs with another team. Of course, there's always some chance -- however small -- that the running back gets a huge offer the Cardinals aren't willing to match.
Drake and the Cardinals have engaged in contract talks, with GM Steve Keim saying he hopes to re-sign the running back, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. Keim also commented on David Johnson, whose $10.2 million base salary for 2020 is fully guaranteed. Specifically, Keim said Johnson won't be released this offseason, adding that the 28-year-old should still have a key role on offense even if he isn't the starter. There aren't many teams in the modern NFL giving large contracts to multiple running backs, but the Cardinals arguably could make it work while they have QB Kyler Murray on a rookie deal. Drake certainly made his case for a handsome payday, averaging 80.4 rushing yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry in eight appearances for the Cardinals. He was limited to a 6.1-yard average on 28 catches, but that's largely because his average depth of reception was 3.2 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson, on the other hand, had an average depth of 4.1 yards beyond the LOS on his 36 receptions, producing 10.3 YPR.
Drake ran for 60 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries and caught three of four targets for 23 receiving yards during Sunday's 31-24 loss to the Rams. The 25-year-old back concluded his late-season scoring surge during Arizona's 2019 finale, accounting for his seventh TD since Week 15 while also reaching 5.0 yards per carry for a third straight game. Drake relegated former Cardinals workhorse David Johnson to a bit role over the latter half of 2019, amassing 18.9 offensive touches per game to Johnson's stunningly low total of 3.3 touches per appearance between Weeks 9 and 17. While Johnson's contract extends through 2021, it seems extremely unlikely that the team would deploy him as the lead back next season given his disintegrating role over the past two months. Drake, meanwhile, will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but the Cardinals may very well look to secure his services long term as result of the back's prolific production during the late stages of an otherwise mediocre year for Arizona's offense.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/13||@San Francisco 49ers||3||12.16|
|5||10/11||@New York Jets||9||14.50|
|12||11/29||@New England Patriots||2||11.94|
|13||12/06||Los Angeles Rams||18||18.00|
|14||12/13||@New York Giants||17||17.75|
|16||12/27||San Francisco 49ers||3||12.16|
|17||01/03||@Los Angeles Rams||18||18.00|
|3 Year Avg||141||665||5||45||354||2||141|