With less than an hour before the franchise-transition tag deadline, we have our first transition tag of this year’s cycle. The Cardinals will use the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.
The NFL released its tag numbers, and the Cardinals will make by far the lowest payment of the teams that used them this year. The Drake transition tag will cost just $8.5MM. Arizona still has David Johnson on its roster on a $13MM-AAV deal. While Drake loomed as a possible tag candidate, the Cards are set to devote extensive funds to their running back spot.
While the Cardinals are the first team to deploy a transition tag this year, 12 others used their franchise tags. This will keep the former Dolphins starter off the market, but Drake can sign offer sheets with other teams. The Cardinals would not any compensation if they fail to match an offer another team submits to Drake.
Steve Keim said the Cards will not release Johnson, with a release not doing anything to help the team in the way of cap savings. It would tag Arizona with $16MM-plus in dead money. Drake supplanted Johnson as the Cards’ starter last season and was the more effective back down the stretch.
More than two years younger than Johnson, Drake, 26, averaged 5.2 yards per carry with the Cardinals after the team traded for him last season. The Dolphins used him as a part-time starter in 2018, with Frank Gore playing a major role in Miami’s backfield that season. Drake, though, profiles as a potentially strong backfield investment. He has only logged 456 carries in his career and and has totaled 822 receiving yards in the past two years.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.