Cardinals GM wants Kenyan Drake back depending on market, thinks David Johnson can 'do some good things' too

The 2019 season was much kinder to the Arizona Cardinals than the 2018 campaign was. While the Cardinals still finished in last place in the NFC West at 5-10-1, they can feel comfortable moving forward with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray. The running back position, however, is still shrouded in uncertainty. 

David Johnson signed a lucrative three-year extension before the 2018 season, but he ended up taking a backseat to midseason trade acquisition Kenyan Drake. In 2019, Johnson rushed for just 345 yards and two touchdowns on 94 carries and recorded 370 receiving yards and four more touchdowns through the air. Those numbers are a far cry from his dominant 2016 season, when he put up 1,239 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and caught 80 passes for 879 yards and four more touchdowns. 

When the Cardinals traded with the Miami Dolphins for Drake, he didn't wait very long to get going. In his first game as a Cardinal, he rushed for 110 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown in the Week 9, 28-25 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. In eight games, he ended up rushing for 643 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Drake appeared to be a perfect fit in Arizona, but there is one problem -- his contract is up. After a dominant half season in Arizona, Drake is now allowed to test the open market should he choose.

The Cardinals would like him back, but general manager Steve Keim understands that may not happen. 

"He's certainly a guy we would like to have back, but again not sure what the market is going to do," Keim said, via the Cardinals' official website.

Other running backs like Derrick Henry and Melvin Gordon are poised to sign big contracts this offseason, and Drake could follow suit. The Cardinals likely wouldn't want to have two running backs playing under large contracts, as Johnson will cost Arizona $26 million over the next two years, but a franchise tag could be coming

If Drake does end up heading for greener pastures in 2020, the Cardinals still have faith that Johnson can be a feature back, and they hope that last season's trials provide a newfound motivation that will make him once again one of the best backs in the league. 

"He's a guy who's shown he can do it," Keim said. "I think because of the success that Kenyan had, because of the success Chase (Edmonds) had, I think that's something that will be a chip on his shoulder. He's going to want to come back and play well and again because of his skillset, he's such a big talented athlete, we certainly think he can jump back in and do some good things for us."

While injuries to Johnson and Chase Edmonds forced the Cardinals to trade for Drake last season, it clearly proved to be a blessing in disguise. If they could have it their way, Drake would be a Cardinal in 2020. But even after a disappointing season, Johnson may get another chance to take over Arizona's backfield. 

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