Arizona Cardinals Robert Nkemdiche is now on a one-year prove it deal
The Arizona Cardinals declined Robert Nkemdiche‘s fifth-year option, meaning he’ll be a free agent after next season.
Many assumed that the Arizona Cardinals had the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft after selecting Robert Nkemdiche at No. 29 overall. But, that hasn’t quite been the case as the former Ole Miss defensive lineman and consensus No. 1 recruit coming out of high school has continued to disappoint in the desert.
In three seasons with the Cardinals, Nkemdiche has played in 27 games, starting just six. His career totals include 70 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, ten tackles for loss, and ten quarterback hits. Though the majority of those statistics, including his 4.5 sacks, came in 2018, the Cardinals don’t seem to be very confident in his future.
The Redbirds brought in defensive linemen Darius Philon (free agency) and Zach Allen (draft), and also resigned Rodney Gunter. All three are expected to make an impact for the 2019 Cardinals. To make matters worse for Nkemdiche, the team is declining his fifth-year option, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, meaning his contract expires in 2020.
Combine his torn ACL towards the end of the season with their additions, and Nkemdiche has an uphill battle to see respectable snaps before that contract expires.
However, Nkemdiche is just 24 years old. He has an excellent 6-foot-4 and 293-pound frame and is a talented athlete. There is still hope for him to blossom into what he was expected to be, but he’ll need to stay healthy, and in terms of technique, he has a long ways to go.
Whether or not this lack of security motivates Nkemdiche or proves to be his demise is up to him. But one thing is for sure; if he wants to stay in the NFL, he’s going to need to show a lot more than he has in the past.