Defensive Starter Gives Cardinals an Ultimatum

Dre Kirkpatrick hints at exit from Cardinals

Getty Dre Kirkpatrick #20 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates a fumble recovery against the Dallas Cowboys with teammate Patrick Peterson #21.

The Arizona Cardinals could be headed for quite the revamp in their secondary this offseason — namely at the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson, Kevin Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick are all impending free agents set to hit the open market this coming Wednesday. As for the latter, it sounds as if the former first-round pick will require a bump in salary. Otherwise, he’ll be taking his talents elsewhere.

In an Instagram post from March 4th, @cardinalszn asked followers whether the Cardinals should re-sign their Kirkpatrick or let him walk. One fan chimed in pleading for Arizona to retain their starting cornerback, operating under the belief that he would sign for the veteran minimum. However, Kirkpatrick wasn’t having any of that, replying “that’s over big dog they got to pay this time.”

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Should Arizona Make Kirkpatrick a Priority This Offseason?

Kirkpatrick was a pleasant surprise for the Cards last season, considering the situation he was thrust into. Inked to the veteran minimum during training camp following a season-ending injury to fellow cornerback Robert Alford, the nine-year pro appeared in 14 games, starting 11 for Arizona in 2020. Kirkpatrick finished the year with three interceptions (tied for team-lead), seven pass breakups and 56 tackles.

While those numbers may point towards a player deserving of a richer payday, the Cardinals may simply not be in the position to oblige. As of Saturday, the team is projected to have just north of $15 million in salary-cap space heading into free agency, via ESPN. Speaking of free agency, Kirkpatrick is just one of 33 impending free agents (h/t CardsWire) Arizona has to make a call on this offseason.

Kirkpatrick would likely be welcomed back to the desert — that is, if he’s willing to budge on his asking price. As of now, don’t expect the Cards to overreach for a 31-year-old cornerback coming off a season where he earned an overall PFF grade of just 49.0.

SB Nation’s 

Should they: No. Kirkpatrick was one of the worst CBs in football last year (105/121 per PFF), and even a CB-needy team like the Redbirds should take a hard pass on bringing him back. Although it’s a very low bar, they should be able to do better than this at CB2 in 2021.

Will they: No. Did you read what I said above? Kirkpatrick was the latest in a long line of “stopgap” solutions at CB2 and will not be brought back given his poor play in 2020. Just about anyone would be better in 2021.

Cards Bring Back Robert Alford

Well, that was quick. A mere two days after being released, the Cardinals have reunited with cornerback Robert Alford. The 32-year-old returns on a one-year contract, most likely incentive-based and starting somewhere around the league minimum.

Initially inked to a three-year, $22.5 million contract back in 2019, Alford was perceived as the answer opposite Patrick Peterson for the Cardinals. Instead, a string of bad luck led to the Louisiana native suffering season-ending injuries in back-to-back training camps, never once appearing in a game with the team.

Alford joins Byron Murphy Jr. as the most distinguished corners currently under contract for the Cardinals, opening the door for him to compete for viable playing time this season.


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