Bad decision may come back to haunt the Arizona Cardinals

(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Devon Kennard
(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Devon Kennard /

The Arizona Cardinals front office missed out on an opportunity to erase the inflated salary of linebacker Devon Kennard from their 2021 payroll.

Few would argue with the fact that the Arizona Cardinals front office has had a tremendous 2021 offseason.

However, not every decision made by the Cardinals‘ management team over the past few months has been good.

For example, Arizona general manager Steve Keim and his cohorts missed out on a golden opportunity back in March that could’ve erased an abysmal contract from the team’s 2021 payroll.

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In March of 2020, the Cardinals and free-agent linebacker Devon Kennard agreed to terms on a three-year, $20 million contract. It was a fantastic outcome for the Arizona native, who came back home to play for the team he grew up watching.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals did not get what they were expecting out of Kennard during the first year of the deal. In 13 appearances (four starts) for the squad last season, the 6-foot-3, 256-pounder contributed just 19 tackles and three sacks to Arizona’s defense.

Immediately after the league year began this past March, Keim was presented with a five-day window that would’ve allowed the organization to get out of Kennard’s inflated contract. Instead, the Cardinals inexplicably stood pat, and now they have to deal with the fact that the defender’s $6.25 million base salary this year is fully guaranteed.

Truth be told, the money that the franchise is doling out to Kennard could’ve been used in a much better way. Rumors are circulating that Arizona could have interest in Julio Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who currently plays for the Atlanta Falcons. But head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s group also has needs at both the cornerback and tight end positions.

Kennard flocked to the Cardinals from the Detroit Lions last year with a feel-good story in his possession. The former USC product’s father, Derek Kennard, logged five campaigns for the St.Louis/Phoenix Cardinals during the latter half of the 1980s. Papa Kennard was a part of the vaunted “Wide Bodies” offensive line that also included Luis Sharpe, Lance Smith, Todd Peat, and Tootie Robbins.

In hindsight, the smart move for Arizona would’ve been to part ways with the younger Kennard when they had the chance in March. A trade is always a possibility, but it’s doubtful that any club will want to pay the 29-year old the money he’s scheduled to make this fall.

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Keim and the Cardinals have found success with quite a few of their acquisitions over the past couple of offseasons. But last year’s addition of Kennard is proof that you can’t win them all.