The Cardinals backfield may see a bit of a shakeup this offseason as Kenyan Drake is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Since being acquired by the Miami Dolphins in 2019, Drake has started in 21 of his 23 games played in Arizona, making him the unquestioned top dog in that running back group. However, if he were to depart the organization by inking a deal with a new club when free agency begins in a few weeks, the Cardinals appear confident that they have an in-house option to replace his production.
While speaking to reporters on Thursday, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was asked about the possibility of Chase Edmonds seeing an increased workload in 2021 if they were to lose Drake and what his confidence would be that he can be productive.
“As far as Chase goes, you’ve seen when he’s had his opportunity, he’s played at a starting running back level,” Kingsbury said. “We all understand that he’s unfortunately been nicked up a couple times, which we want to keep him on the field. But we have all the confidence in the world in Chase and him being able to be the bell cow if that’s how this plays out.”
Edmonds is coming off a career-season in 2020 as the third-year back totaled 850 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. The 24-year-old’s 5.7 yards per touch was also better than Drake’s 4.1 yards per touch over the course of last season, albeit with a lighter workload.
As Kingsbury pointed out, the Cardinals have been able to see what Edmonds looks like as their feature back in the past, notching four starts under his belt over his tenure. In his most recent start (Week 9 vs. Miami), Edmonds had 70 yards rushing and caught all three of his targets for 18 yards. When the back has received double-digit carries, the Cardinals are 2-1.
If this situation develops to where he is the starting back for Arizona in 2021, that could set up a tremendous opportunity for Edmonds, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
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