Linebacker Haason Reddick, the Cardinals' top pick in the 2017 draft, continues to see his role dwindle with the team over a short time, with serious concerns growing about his ability to master Arizona's new defense, sources said.
The team selected Reddick 13th overall just a year ago believing he could make an immediate impact as an explosive athlete who could boost the pass rush and use his elite speed to chase down the ball carrier all over the field. But his playing time began to slip late last season and he has become nearly a healthy scratch this season under head coach Steve Wilks and the Cardinals' new defense, playing less than five snaps last week.
Sources said Reddick has yet to grasp the defense and has lost his job at strong side linebacker to Gerald Hodges, a journeyman linebacker in his first year in Arizona who has won the trust of coaches and teammates. No reversal in the depth chart seems imminent – Arizona's defense has been holding its own the last few weeks despite receiving almost no support from the offense – and it might require an injury to prompt a change.
Arizona is also barely utilizing its 2014 first-round pick, hybrid safety/linebacker Deone Bucannon, who was a regular in this defense since a rookie but has not been a good scheme fit in the new defense. Bucannon's smaller body type is not as good a fit in the new system, sources said, and he played only one snap last week. Playing time could obviously fluctuate by the week depending on the opponent's offensive personnel and tendencies, but any major reversal of course in these instances would be a surprise at this point.
Some executives from other clubs have begun internal discussions as to the potential availability of either player ahead of next months trade deadline, and a trade would be a viable option, sources said, with the Cardinals generally willing listeners. It has become increasingly common for NFL teams to move recent high draft picks early in their career. The Cardinals are off to a slow start and already far off the pace in the NFC, and with the team also paying $21M in salary right now to two back-up quarterbacks who won't see the field unless rookie starter Josh Rosen gets hurt, the Cardinals can expect to field plenty of calls around the Week 9 deadline.