Cardinals Receiver a Candidate for Late Offseason Move

Andy Isabella

Getty The Cardinals' Andy Isabella had one catch in 2021.

The Arizona Cardinals’ Andy Isabella is approaching another season in which his future looks even direr than it did the year before.

Entering the final year of his rookie deal and stuck behind several players on the Cardinals’ depth chart, Isabella appears to be a candidate for trade or release when the team begins trimming its roster in August.

The fourth-year receiver has not turned out to be the talent the team projected when it selected him in the second round of the 2019 draft. In his first two seasons, Isabella recorded 29 receptions and three touchdowns. Last season, he was targeted just one time, making the catch for 13 yards late in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Lions’ 30-12 blowout of the Cardinals in Week 15.

In Isabella’s time with the Cardinals, he has been overshadowed by receivers who are not just more talented but are potential future Hall of Famers. Receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green have made it difficult for Isabella to even see time on the field. Although Hopkins will not start the season due to suspension, it is safe to say he will start once he returns in Week 7. The Cardinals also have signed four undrafted free agents and several veterans. Whether or not these players make the final roster cut, it appears that the front office is looking for talent to replace Isabella this summer.

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The Reality of Isabella’s Contract

The Cardinals signed Isabella, who will be 26 when the season starts, to a four-year, $4.6 million contract in May 2019. He is on contract this season to earn a base salary of $1.13 million and $347,000 for a total cap hit of $1.47 million. If Isabella can stick with the team throughout the 2022 season, he would become an unrestricted free agent who would not likely get re-signed by the Cardinals.

With quarterback Kyler Murray having plenty of weapons around him, moving Isabella off the roster before the August 30 final cut-down to 53 players could be a quite likely scenario.

For a team that requires bolstering its receiving corps, Isabella could be a hidden gem, mostly because of his speed. In September 2021, it was that facet of his game that essentially saved his job, according to Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

“His explosiveness, his speed, he can play inside and outside, very conscientious player, can play special teams, can be in the return game,” Kingsbury said, according to The Arizona Republic. “There’s a lot of versatility there for kind of that slot that he’s in that makes a lot of sense for us.”

But with several new players — including potential No. 2 receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown — coming into Arizona’s locker room at the same position it is not difficult to see the Cardinals letting him finish his last season under contract battling out for a future contract elsewhere. They also have signed unproven receivers Christian Blake, Jared Smart, Changa Hodge, Jontre Kirklin, JaVonta Payton and Stephon Robinson Jr. to battle for depth spots.

If the Cardinals have trouble finding a potential suitor for Isabella, they could resort to releasing him from the roster. Whether the Cardinals trade, release or keep Isabella, they will face a dead cap hit of $346,794 in 2022, meaning that no matter what happens to Isabella this offseason, he will have at least this amount of money allocated to him on Arizona’s payroll.

The Teams That Would Make Sense for Isabella

In early June, Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals’ receiving corps 16th in the NFL, with the league’s five worst (from strongest to weakest) being the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens (from whom the Cardinals acquired Hollywood Brown), Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers (last year’s No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs) and Chicago Bears.

Perhaps teams facing receiver deficiencies could use a speedy and “very conscientious” receiver such as Isabella, who is likely to get a better opportunity to start or make an impact elsewhere.

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