Kenyan Drake Says Transition Tag 'Wasn't Really a Slap in the Face' by Cardinals

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2020

OUT OF CAMERA FILE REQUEST - Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake (41) celebrates his touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Most players view the franchise/transition tag as an insult—some to the point they'll hold out deep into training camp or even into the regular season to express their displeasure.

Kenyan Drake, who received the Cardinals' transition tag, didn't view it that way. 

"With them tagging me, it wasn't really a slap in the face or anything," Drake said Friday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "They wanted to get a gauge on my market and everything happened how it did. With me signing the tag, it put me in a pretty decent position from a financial standpoint, especially amongst my fellow running backs. I'm fortunate they saw in me what I see in myself, and hopefully we can continue to work on a long-term deal in the future."

The Cardinals traded for Drake at last season's deadline, and he exploded to become one of the NFL's best backs in the second half. He rushed for 643 yards and eight touchdowns, adding 171 yards on 28 receptions, in eight games with the team.

Arizona doubled down on Drake as its feature back by trading David Johnson to the Houston Texans as part of a deal that brought back DeAndre Hopkins.

"I think he's going to have a higher level of confidence, no doubt, just understanding the system, understanding how we coach, what's expected of him," coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters last month. "He did a lot of that on the fly. You see the explosiveness, you see what he can do in space, and we have to continue to do a great job of putting him in situations to be successful.

"I just think his overall knowledge of the system, comfort level in the system and even living conditions and all those things that help you be a better pro, he should be a lot more comfortable next season."

Kingsbury also said the Cardinals want to have three reliable running backs on their roster. The team attempted to address the third spot on the depth chart behind Drake and Chase Edmonds with seventh-round pick Eno Benjamin. The Arizona State product is small but explosive; he and Edmonds are both listed at just 5'9".

With Drake being the only running back on the roster seemingly built for three-down work, he should have a big season in store before hitting free agency next offseason.