Cardinals could use franchise tag on Kenyan Drake to avoid losing him in free agency, per report

The Arizona Cardinals are among the NFL teams with the most projected salary cap space entering the 2020 offseason, and it sure sounds as if they're aware of all the money they have to spend. This week alone, general manager Steve Keim has assured the media the team will not release running back David Johnson, despite the injury-riddled veteran costing Arizona $26 million over the next two years, as well as confirmed talks of a contract extension for cornerback Patrick Peterson, who's set to earn $13.1 million at age 30, a year after missing six games due to suspension.

Now, it appears they could be willing to drop even more money for Johnson's fellow running back, impending free agent Kenyan Drake. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the 26-year-old former Miami Dolphins starter could be a target for Arizona's franchise tag.

"If they do re-sign or actually franchise tag Kenyan Drake -- it does sound like the team wants to do one of those things, bring back their star rusher from last year, then they potentially could work out a trade involving David Johnson where maybe they would eat some of the money or potentially even involve a draft pick of their own just to get some of that money off the books," Rapoport said.

Acquired in exchange for a late-round draft pick at the 2019 trade deadline, Drake was the Cardinals' top ball-carrier down the stretch of Kliff Kingsbury's first season atop the staff, finishing with 643 yards and eight touchdowns in just eight games. After averaging more than five yards per carry during that stretch, he figured to be one of the team's top priorities this offseason, especially if the team could find a taker for the 28-year-old Johnson, who's missed 18 games over the last three seasons and hasn't averaged more than 3.7 yards per carry since his 2016 Pro Bowl campaign.

Still, it's been three years since an NFL team used its franchise tag on a running back -- a position that's increasingly, and often justifiably, been financially devalued across the league. Over The Cap projects RB tags to cost $12.4 million in 2020, meaning Arizona would be making Drake the league's fifth-highest-paid player at his position in terms of average salary per year by tagging him.

CBS Sports Writer

Cody Benjamin joined CBS Sports in 2017 after time spent with SB Nation, various newspapers and his own Eagles outlet. Raised around the Philly sports scene, he now lives in Minnesota with his wife and... Full Bio

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