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Cardinals Release Robert Nkemdiche

Former first-round pick struggled since coming into the league

Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche at a training camp practice this week.
Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche at a training camp practice this week.

The disappointing Cardinals career of Robert Nkemdiche is over.

The Cardinals released their 2016 first-round draft pick Saturday. The team had a "failed physical" designation with the move, according to the NFL's transactions list.

The defensive lineman had been on the physically-unable-to-perform list after tearing his ACL in early December. But his rehab work had not been stellar, and when asked this week about an evaluation of Nkemdiche, coach Kliff Kingsbury bluntly said "not in shape."

The Cardinals had hoped they had gotten a steal when they took Nkemdiche 29th overall. Some thought he was a potential top 10 pick when he went into his final season at Ole Miss. Off-field issues were apparent, however, as was a reputation of an inability to give consistent effort.

The same things plagued him in the NFL. Nkemdiche played in just 27 of a possible 48 games in his three seasons with the Cardinals, compiling 4½ sacks – all in 2018 – and 43 total tackles. He was arrested twice this past offseason for traffic and drivers license issues.

Nkemdiche had been due a $400,000 bonus for being on the roster on the fifth day of training camp.

Given the uncertainty coming off his injury, the Cardinals had already built a defensive line with Corey Peters, Rodney Gunter and Darius Philon, with rookie third-round pick Zach Allen hoping to contribute immediately. The team also signed veteran Terrell McClain in the offseason.