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Entering the offseason, many have believed the Arizona Cardinals would move on from outside linebacker Devon Kennard. After signing him to a three-year, $20 million contract, he had a disappointing season.
He had seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits in his first three games. Then he injured his ankle and missed two games. He then contracted COVID-19 and missed more time.
By the time he got healthy, the team had acquired Markus Golden in a trade and Golden took his spot in the starting lineup.
Kennard finished with three sacks, 13 tackles, five tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits in 13 games, playing only 362 defensive snaps, 33% of the team’s total defensive snaps. It was the fewest snaps he had played since his rookie season.
Set to count $8 million against the salary cap in 2021, he was a candidate to be a cap casualty.
That can’t happen now.
SI.com’s Howard Balzer reported on Kennard’s contract a year ago something that has not been caught by Over the Cap or other cap websites.
Kennard’s 2021 salary is fully guaranteed.
It didn’t start that way.
According to Balzer, Kennard’s $6.25 million salary for 2021 was guaranteed only for injury.
His $6.25 million base salary in 2021 is currently guaranteed for injury only and becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the roster on the fifth day of the 2021 league year.
The Cardinals could have cut him at the start of the new league year before his salary fully vested. They chose not to. Now, they will have no cap savings by cutting him and would have to pay him the full $6.25 million, which is financially foolish.
They could still trade him, but it seems unlikely a team would trade for him with that contract.
So while the Cardinals signed J.J. Watt and re-signed Markus Golden, the Cardinals obviously still had plans for Kennard.
Kennard is a perfect complement for Chandler Jones and Watt. Kennard is a smart run defender and has a ton of experience in dropping into coverage. If Watt is going to slide from the defensive interior to the edge in nickel packages, Kennard can play in base packages.
2020 was a rough year for him. But it would seem the team did not give up on him.
Unless they find a trade partner, Kennard will be on the roster in 2021 and hopefully plays quite a bit, so that $6.25 million salary doesn’t go to waste.