Arizona Cardinals would benefit from releasing linebacker

This year’s offseason promises to be an extremely challenging one for the Arizona Cardinals. General manager Steve Keim will have to deal with a free agent list that’s peppered with top-notch players. Making things even more difficult for Cardinals management is a salary-cap number that’s expected to drop significantly in 2021.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the Arizona roster this season centers around the outside linebacker position. Haason Reddick and Markus Golden have expiring contracts, and there’s a chance that either one or both will be playing elsewhere this coming fall. The Cards would obviously prefer to have the edge-rushing duo back, but Keim will likely have to free up some cap space to make that scenario a possibility.

With that thought in mind, there is an individual that didn’t quite live up to the lucrative contract he received from the Cardinals in 2020. Devon Kennard, who signed a three-year, $20 million deal with the club, was certainly a disappointment last fall. Genuine excitement followed the 29-year old’s arrival, but Kennard’s performance on the field was far from impressive.

In 13 appearances (four starts) for Arizona, Kennard contributed a grand total of just 19 tackles. The three sacks registered by the 6’3, 256 pounder was his lowest output in that category since 2016. Not the type of numbers that the Cards front office envisioned when they pried Kennard away from the Detroit Lions last March.

Kennard is scheduled to count $7.9 million against the Cardinals salary cap in the coming year. That figure will climb to $8.25 million in 2022. Money that could be used in a much wiser way by Keim and his cohorts.

Walking away from Kennard in ’21 would leave $3.75 million in dead salary-cap cash. The upside of such a move, however, is the $4.15 million that Arizona would gain by releasing the veteran.

The Cards already have big bucks tied up in Chandler Jones, the squad’s superstar sack artist who missed 11 games with a torn bicep muscle last season. The 30-year old will earn $15.5 million in base salary this coming fall, and will count a whopping $20.8 million against the team’s salary cap.

Keim and the Cardinals have some tough decisions to make in the coming months. Parting ways with Kennard after just one campaign could turn out to be one of them.