It’s truly amazing the work the Arizona Cardinals have done in terms of the front office. In his ninth season as general manager, Steve Keim is operating like it’s Super Bowl or bust for the 2021 club.
When tight end Maxx Williams went down with a season-ending knee injury against the San Francisco 49ers, Keim swooped in two days later and dealt for Pro-Bowl veteran Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles.
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Keim isn’t afraid to pull the trigger when he sees vulnerability from other organizations. He did it when he heard DeAndre Hopkins was available in Houston. Last October, Keim traded with the scuffling 1-6 New York Giants at the time and reunited with edge rusher Markus Golden.
Could we see another “Keim Time” special?
Arizona has also created $5.2 million in cap space by creating defensive tackle Jordan Phillips’ salary into a signing bonus. Thus, the Cards, “get relief to use to operate the rest of the season”, says NFL analyst Field Yates.
Could the Cardinals make another trade? And with a familiar team?
Proposal Sends Hybrid Safety to Arizona
The Cards have already traded with an NFC East rival in the 2-4 Eagles. So that leaves the Cowboys, who are already running away with the division at 5-1 and the Washington Football Team will still try to win despite being 2-4.
The Giants are once again seemingly out of contention with a 1-5 record. Keim might just take another opportunity to strike against the NFC East. This time, it would be with the Giants again.
ESPN NFL insider Bill Barnwell strung together 10 trade possibilities throughout the league. Barnwell suggests the Giants send team captain safety Jabrill Peppers to the desert.
As the only undefeated team left, the Cardinals will be looking to supplement their roster with a piece or two at the deadline. We know both general manager Steve Keim and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph love adding great athletes on defense and relying on them to fly around the football field, independent of position. Peppers has seen his role reduced for the Giants this season, and he’s probably best used as a hybrid linebacker/safety. The former Michigan star is in the final year of his deal, so he’s probably not in their long-term plans.
This is what the proposal would entail:
- Cardinals receive:
- S Jabrill Peppers
- Giants receive:
- 2022 sixth-round pick
The former first-round pick in 2017 would be all for joining an organization that hasn’t lost in 2021. Peppers was asked if he believed he would stay a Giant past the deadline.
“I just want to win, baby,” he said. “I want to make plays, go out there and win ball games.”
Why Proposal Makes Sense
Let’s just put this to bed. All-Pro safety Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson’s roles on the defense would not change one bit. Thompson is an unsung hero on the defense and has made key important open field tackles left and right. Baker’s resume speaks for itself.
For Arizona, it would only cost a sixth-round pick and Peppers is in the final year of his rookie contract. The Cardinals would have no picks in the fifth or sixth rounds in 2022, due to the Ertz trade and Barnwell’s proposed Peppers trade.
You can make the argument that Arizona not budging at the deadline wouldn’t be an issue. But what if one of Baker or Thompson gets hurt? Other than Week 4, with Deionte Thompson’s four snaps, the Cardinals use only two safeties.
Peppers, the supposed starter in 2021, has seen his playing time shrink, averaging 20 fewer snaps per game when compared to 2020.
And while the Cardinals defense is one of the best in the league (second in DVOA), Vance Joseph bringing in a hybrid linebacker and safety who can fly at the quarterback would make the rich get richer.
Barnwell also brought up a great point about Peppers taking some duties at punt returner over budding rookie sensation Rondale Moore.
Peppers could also figure into Arizona’s plans as a return man. The Cardinals have used Rondale Moore as their primary return man, and while the rookie second-round pick is a threat to make a house call whenever he touches the football, he had a significant track record of injuries in college at Purdue. The Cards have only used Moore on 42.9% of their offensive snaps so far. Giving Peppers some of the return duties might make them more comfortable with giving Moore a larger offensive role.
Lessening the load on Moore to return punts would be smart, given the injury history that Barnwell mentioned.
Other teams that need safety help more than the Cardinals could probably snatch Peppers. But if Keim works his magic, adding to a position that could use depth would be a smart avenue to cross.