A couple of weeks ago, Arizona Cardinal’s Defensive End Robert Nkemdiche was pulled over and arrested for speeding and driving on a suspended license.
While there were reports that a white powder was supposedly found in the car, the police decided not to charge him, nor to even test the powder to see what it was, so even if he’d been found with a kilo of white powder, the fact he wasn’t charged means it is a non-issue. There are rumblings, however, that because of this arrest and due to a substance he wasn’t charged with being found in the car, that the Cardinals should release Pork Chop within the first week of training camp. They can’t currently release him due to his still recovering from a torn ACL, but in order to avoid paying him a $400,000 bonus, they have to cut him by the 5th day of training camp.
Going into the draft, Nkemdiche was seen by many as one of the top 10 players in that draft class, yet the Cardinals managed to find him fall into their lap with the 29th pick in the 2016 draft.
Due to various issues both on and off the field, though, the Cardinals have found themselves still waiting for Nkemdiche to play to his potential and justify their spending a first round pick on him. With this arrest and his lack of production, it’s quite possible, that we see the Cardinals release him a few days into training camp.
While that may prove to be bad news for many Arizona fans, and for Robert himself, it could prove to be very good news for Buccaneer fans.
Jason Pierre-Paul isn’t really expected to see any playing time this year after his accident and opting not to have surgery. While it’s still possible that JPP may play, the odds aren’t in his favor. His recovery is a very slow and steady process, and even the slightest of setbacks could result in his needing surgery or having to start his recovery over from scratch. Not having JPP on the field will leave a huge hole in the defense as he was expected to once again have a double-digit sack total this season, and it’s a hole that will be hard to fill not only given his talent, but the fact that the Buccaneers are still extremely strapped for money when it comes to the salary cap and payroll.
This is where Nkemdiche getting cut by the Cardinals could be very good news for Tampa.
The new coaching staff is already very familiar with Pork Chop and not only what he can do, but what his upside is. They have seen him play, they’ve seen him practice, and they’ve seen how he operates in the locker room with his teammates. He too is quite familiar with the coaching staff, and he knows what would be expected of him, and what to expect from them. This is the first time Nkemdiche has found himself in trouble, so Arians should have no issues with him regarding behavior either on or off the field, and it was Arians who had his hand in Nkemdiche being drafted.
Last season was the first time that we saw Robert take the field as a starter, and in those 6 games as a starter, he was able to rack up 4.5 sacks, which coincidentally is the same amount of sacks we saw recent Buccaneers addition Ndamukong Suh tally last season in 16 games as a starter. He was also able to amass 32 combined tackles and 7 hits on the opposing quarterbacks, which happened to be more tackles than Gerald McCoy managed last season. If you were to average out his numbers as a starter and carry them through 16 games, he would have been on pace to surpass Suh and McCoy in every measurable statistic.
Along with his being on pace in 2018 to surpass both McCoy and Suh, we’ve also seen with the signing of Suh, that the Buccaneers are willing to take a chance on a player that has a not so spotless reputation, making Nkemdiche’s recent arrest not really something the current staff would be too concerned with. It gets even better still though, as Pork Chop will still make over $1 million from his current contract with the Cardinals even if he winds up getting cut. This may make it easier for him to accept a short term minimum deal from the Buccaneers in an effort to not only reunite with his former coach, but allow him to prove he’s worth signing to a much larger contract.
If the Buccaneers can find themselves in a position to add a familiar face for a fairly minimal contract, while filling a huge need, and someone who proved last season has the ability to put up numbers that rival JPP, it would be foolish to see them pass on the opportunity.
It’s a signing that makes sense for everyone involved, with almost no risk, especially if JPP finds himself sitting out the entire 2019 season.
I’d like for the Buccaneers to add Nkemdiche to the roster come the first week of training camp, and then look for him to take advantage of every opportunity to prove why Arizona shouldn’t have released him, and given that the Cardinals and Buccaneers will face off in week 9, Nkemdiche should be extra motivated to have a monster game against his former team.
Just in case you’re one of those that think we need some more attitude on the line, just remember, this is the man that Arians had to tell to back off in practice as he was killing players, knocking lineman on their backs, and risking Arians being fined by the league for having such a physical player in limited practices.