The Cardinals want to keep running back Kenyan Drake – and they took a step Monday morning to help make that happen.
The team applied the transition tag to Drake, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. Drake is still able to negotiate a contract with another team, but the tag allows the Cardinals the right of first refusal on any offer. If the Cardinals were to decline to match an offer, they would not receive any compensation.
The one-year transition tag salary is determined by averaging the top 10 players at the position over the past five years.The running back number in 2020 is $8.483 million. Drake could also still negotiate a long-term contract with the Cardinals.
Drake and all free agents can begin negotiating with teams other than their own beginning today.
The last time the Cards used a tag was when they put the franchise tag on linebacker Chandler Jones in 2017. Before that, it was a franchise tag for defensive end Calais Campbell in 2012. In both cases, the team ended up signing the player to a long-term deal a few weeks later.
In only eight games with the Cardinals, Drake rushed for 643 yards (5.2 yards a carry) and eight touchdowns. He added another 171 yards on 28 receptions. Drake was acquired midseason in a trade with the Dolphins for what turned out to be a fifth-round pick.
"We'd love to have (Drake) back, he's a perfect fit for our offense," coach Kliff Kingsbury said at the Scouting combine. "I think he understands that. But I understand the business side of things as well."
The Cardinals still have David Johnson – who is owed $10.2 million in salary this season himself – on the roster at running back, although he is reportedly being traded to Houston for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Cards also have Chase Edmonds at running back, while D.J. Foster is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.