Haason Reddick may be franchise-tagged by Arizona Cardinals
By Jim Koch
Throughout the first three seasons of his NFL career, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick was showered with criticism. A prospect selected with the 13th-overall pick of the draft is expected to perform at a high level. Reddick underachieved, however, and the Cards decided to pass on the fifth-year option that was included in the player’s rookie contract.
In hindsight, Arizona general manager Steve Keim and his cohorts may have made a mistake. Reddick changed positions in 2020, and turned in the best performance of his professional career. Did the Cardinals blow it with the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent?
Well, not necessarily. Keim and company still have a tool in their possession that could prevent Reddick from leaving the team. There’s a distinct possibility that the edge-rusher could be slapped with the franchise tag, a designation that would allow the Cards to match any offer that Reddick may receive on the open market.
Of course, going that route would be a much more expensive proposition for the club’s front office. Arizona would’ve saved a significant amount of money by simply picking up Reddick’s fifth-year option. Nevertheless, the organization still has the power to determine where the 26-year old will play in 2021.
Reddick’s transition to pro football was far from an easy one. The former Temple University defensive end entered the league back in 2017, and was moved to the inside linebacker spot. Reddick struggled with his new assignment, totaling just 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 16 appearances (three starts) as a first-year performer for Big Red.
The 6’1, 235 pounder improved in 2018, registering 80 tackles, four sacks and five passes defensed in 16 games (12 starts) for the Cardinals. The next season, Reddick tallied 76 tackles, but was credited with just one measly sack. Not nearly the type of production that management was hoping for when they spent a first-round choice on the New Jersey native back in ’17.
As a last resort, Arizona’s coaching staff made Reddick a full-time outside linebacker last fall. The results were eye-opening. In 16 contests (11 starts), Reddick racked up 63 tackles (15 for a loss), six forced fumbles, four pass breakups and an outstanding 12.5 sacks for the Cards defensive unit.
The franchise-tag number for a linebacker in ’21 is $15.657 million. That’s a hefty price tag, especially considering the fact that this year’s salary cap will be reduced. We’ll find out in the coming weeks just how valuable Reddick is in the eyes of the Cardinals.