Over the past two years, cornerback Robert Alford has collected over $13 million from the Arizona Cardinals. Phenomenal cash for an individual who has not yet played a down in a regular-season matchup for the franchise. General manager Steve Keim has certainly been on a tear lately, but the Alford acquisition is looking more and more like one of the worst signings in Cards history.
Alford has missed both of the last two campaigns, thanks to a pair of season-ending injuries he suffered during training camp. The veteran was 30 years of age back in February of 2019, when he signed his three-year contract with the Cardinals. Now, 25 months later, should Arizona’s front office trust a 32-year old cover guy who’s coming off of two major setbacks in his NFL career?
One significant drawback to keeping Alford on the roster is his $9 million salary-cap hit. Parting ways with the former Atlanta Falcons draft pick would leave just $1.5 million in dead money, leaving the Cards with $7.5 million to use somewhere else. Perhaps on a corner like Patrick Peterson, who is preparing to test the free-agent waters after 10 seasons with the organization.
The last time Alford saw action was back in 2018, when he registered 15 starts for the Falcons. The former Southeastern Louisiana University product was credited with 50 tackles and 11 passes defensed for the squad. A year before, in 2017, Alford tallied 68 tackles, an interception and a whopping 20 pass breakups in 16 appearances for Atlanta.
Besides Alford, third-year pro Byron Murphy is the only dependable cornerback who’s currently under contract with the Cardinals. Another veteran at the position for the club, Dre Kirkpatrick, will also be seeking a new deal this offseason. However, the longtime member of the Cincinnati Bengals has indicated that he’ll want much more than the $1,050,000 he was paid by Arizona last fall.
The free agent acquisition of Alford back in ’19 seemed like a great idea at the time. The Cards needed a number-two cover guy to pair with Peterson, so Keim went out and got one. Now, in 2021, the risk that comes with retaining Alford may outweigh the reward.