The trade deadline is approaching on November 2 and the 6-0 Arizona Cardinals have already made noise in the trading department.
On October 12, the Cardinals trade rookie corner Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz. This move was ultimately made due to the season-ending knee injury to Maxx Williams against the San Francisco 49ers.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, now an acting coach for Kliff Kingsbury, spoke to the media on October 20 about Ertz’s abilities.
“Obviously, a guy like that who’s a serious threat in the pass game first, he allows you to make defenses honest,” said Joseph. He can kill teams down the middle and he’s also a really good blocker. He’s a long, good athlete.”
Ertz hit the ground running and made his first practice with his new team on October 20. He’s extremely enamored with this new situation.
“Just being around the group, you can feel the energy, you can feel the leadership on this team and I’m just excited to be a part of it,” said Ertz.
So going back to the trade deadline topic, could the Cardinals buy again? Absolutely, but this team constructed currently can’t really add new shiny toys after acquiring Ertz’s contract unless they made corresponding moves.
This leaves the simple question. Could the only undefeated team in the league, the Cardinals, actually sell?
Cardinals Reporter Weighs in
Cardinals’ ESPN reporter Josh Weinfuss was given the task to come up with a Cards player who could be a trade target for the rest of the league.
His answer was 30-year-old outside linebacker Devon Kennard. This is what he had to say:
The answer would have been inside linebacker Jordan Hicks at the start of the season, but he has established himself as a critical piece of this year’s defense. However, Kennard has seen his playing time drop since he missed Week 9 last season because of COVID-19 protocols. He’s averaging about 10 fewer snaps per game this season than in games he played last season. If a team is looking for a veteran presence who can still rush the passer off the edge, Kennard would be the answer. But he won’t get the same kind of playing time in Arizona behind Chandler Jones and Markus Golden that he would elsewhere.
Kennard signed a three-year deal in 2020 worth $20 million. In year one, the Cardinals didn’t get what they had hoped out of the linebacker, starting just four games and tallying just 19 tackles.
Arizona could’ve gotten out of Kennard’s contract through a five-day window after the league year in March, but general manager Steve Keim stood pat. Kennard’s base salary this year is $6.25 million and is even averaging fewer snaps than last season according to Weinfuss.
At the same time, depth is vital even for the undefeated Cardinals. Chandler Jones’s absence against the Browns due to COVID led to the highest snap count for Kennard versus the Browns.
J.J. Watt’s sack on Baker Mayfield led to a fumble that was recovered by Kennard.
Kennard had his best game of the season against the Browns. Potential sell-high candidate?
Should Cards Trade Kennard?
Kennard played well and garnered an 82.0 grade according to Pro Football Focus. But it’s also worth noting that Kennard showed up on the injury report on October 20 with a new shoulder injury.
Depth is never a bad thing and the proof is their performance against the Browns. But the Cardinals also have Dennis Gardeck who could fill in for Kennard.
And if they were to trade Kennard, maybe they could get back a draft pick and salary relief. Remember, the Cardinals traded a fifth-round pick for Ertz. But it’s not like fifth-round picks are in dire need for Keim and company.
The dire need for the Cardinals is having bodies on the field. The COVID situation keeps prompting Arizona to make additions to the practice squad. Why lose a veteran piece that could all of a sudden be the next man up if, for example, Markus Golden could go down?
But if the Cards were to make another addition at the deadline, they would likely have to subtract someone. And Kennard’s cap number is the fifth highest on the team.
As of right now, the question of trading Kennard at the moment for Arizona and making no other moves would be a simple answer of no.