The former first-round draft pick’s turbulent offseason made his release an easy decision for the Arizona Cardinals organization
The warning signs were there for the Arizona Cardinals. Back in 2016, as the first round of the NFL Draft was winding down, the front office was faced with a tough dilemma. The 29th-overall selection was far from a premier pick, so the Cards decided to take a gamble.
After 28 clubs before them took a pass on defensive tackle tackle Robert Nkemdiche, Arizona took the bait. An opportunity to land a top-10 talent so late in the opening round was too tempting to pass up. The choice was made, the controversial Nkemdiche would be coming to the desert to play for the Cardinals.
Now, three years later, the relationship between the team and the former University of Mississippi star is over. The Cards finally sent Nkemdiche packing this past Saturday, just days after his latest transgression. According to head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the player reported to training camp “not in shape”, and that was apparently the last straw.
Things began to go downhill for Nkemdiche last month, when he was cited two separate times for traffic violations. The 24-year old was charged with speeding and for driving with a suspended license. Police at one of the scenes also found a white powdery substance (that for some reason was never tested) in the console of Nkemdiche’s vehicle.
The issues with Nkemdiche date all of the way back to his college days. There was an incident in December of 2015, when the highly-touted prospect fell from the fourth-floor window of an Atlanta hotel. Nkemdiche was later charged with drug possession after officers found seven marijuana cigarettes in his room.
Nkemdiche received backlash at times for his on-field performance as well. Critics blasted the defender for taking plays off, and for disappearing during games. Former Arizona head coach Bruce Arians publicly questioned Nkemdiche’s heart and maturity on several different occasions.
The numbers that Nkemdiche has accumulated during his three professional campaigns thus far are hardly impressive. The 6’4, 314 pounder tallied just 44 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his 27 appearances (six starts) for the Cardinals. Injuries were also a detriment to his career, causing Nkemdiche to miss a total of 21 matchups during his three campaigns in the league.
And now the marriage between the Cards and Nkemdiche has come to an end. Given his youth and talent-level, there’s a very good possibility that this polarizing individual will resurface somewhere rather quickly. Good luck to Nkemdiche, but kudos to Keim and company for finally moving on from this impossible situation.