Why the Cardinals (probably) made the right choice with Haason Reddick

(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick
(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Haason Reddick /

As the offseason continues, the Arizona Cardinals have some time to reflect on past moves, including their choice to let Haason Reddick test the free-agent market.

A decision by the Arizona Cardinals that was highly talked about last offseason was the choice to let linebacker Haason Reddick walk in free agency.

A first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Reddick never lived up to his draft status for the Cardinals until late in the 2020 season. Reddick’s had a five-sack game against the hapless and hopeless New York Giants in Week 14 of the 2020 campaign, but one could argue that this was mostly due to how bad Arizona’s opponent was in this matchup.

Reddick ended the 2020 season with 12.5 sacks, his career-best. So when it came time to make a decision in free agency, the Cardinals opted to let him walk, and Reddick signed with the Carolina Panthers (Arizona’s kryptonite team).

Reddick is not alone in this “what if” talk, as linebacker Devondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas were rubbed in the faces of Cardinals fans until the Green Bay Packers choked their way out of the playoffs, which seems to be an annual event nowadays. However, the latter two are not the scope of this article.

The question is did Arizona do the right thing in letting Reddick leave?

Arizona Cardinals were justified to let Haason Reddick leave in free agency in 2021

After Reddick had 11 sacks with the Panthers during the 2021 season, some NFL analysts and Cardinals fans have been bashing Arizona general manager Steve Keim for letting the linebacker leave in free agency last year. However, hindsight does not invalidate a move at that time.

Reddick had 40 percent of his 2020 sacks total in one game. Think how much of a statistical outlier that is, as Reddick only had seven sacks in his first three seasons with Arizona.

According to StatMuse, there have been five different five-sack games in the last 10 years, and the Cardinals have the two most recent occurrences (Chandler Jones in Week 1 last season). So if there was ever a time, player, and a place to let someone like Reddick, who was a borderline bust prove himself in a different city, it was the spring of 2021.

No one expected Reddick to nearly match his 2020 total this past season, but it also helped that Carolina’s offense was as bad as the southern heat and humidity on a July afternoon. More time on the field, in theory, leads to more stats for the defense.

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Of course, Reddick still has to perform and make those plays. Cardinals fans shouldn’t be sad, remorseful, or any synonyms that come to mind here though. It’s time to stop over-analyzing and move on from this situation.