The former Arizona 1st round draft pick, Robert Nkemdiche, was released by the Cardinals late Saturday. His release comes on the heels of a tough NFL start after being drafted in 2016 by the Arians regime. Recently there have been ongoing frustrations from the Cardinals towards Nkemdiche. With the 314lbs defensive tackle apparently reporting to camp overweight and out of shape. This was the final straw for the team, and it forced his release.
The #AZCardinals released former first-round defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, with frustration from the team coming to a head. Time will tell if a fresh start does the trick.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 28, 2019
After his release last night, there were multiple mentions that Nkemdiche could be a target by the Bucs front office. Especially given that Bruce Arians drafted him back in Arizona, and that he could provide cheap depth. It may not be that simple though.
The relationship between Nkemdiche and Arians seemed to spoil since the rookie’s arrival to the team. He entered camp with an ankle sprain, which sidelined him for weeks. Not to mention he was a healthy scratch for multiple weeks. It was duly noted during the draft that his, “talent, size and intelligence were unquestioned.” What seemed to lack though was his maturity and production on the field.
A Deteriorating Relationship With Arians
Things had gotten so bad for the young DT that Arians didn’t hold back his thoughts on why the rookie had been so underwhelming towards the end of his first season. Saying,
“Talent [is] not an issue,” Arians said. “Maturity is. And it’s just maturing”
When a reporter then mentioned if Nkemdiche’s state is comparable to D.J. Humphries, another rookie that struggled the year before, Arians answered sharply,
“No, D.J. worked harder,”
During Arians brief retirement from coaching, Nkemdiche’s state never really seemed to improve. Collecting just 4.5 sacks and 44 combined tackles in three seasons. Most of that production came during his campaign last season. It wasn’t enough ultimately for a front office and new coaching staff that simply had enough of Nkemdiche’s antics.
It isn’t a huge secret that Arians has taken on project players before, but in Nkemdiche’s case it would seem to be far fetched at best. Especially given that Arians is focused on changing the Tampa Bay culture into a winning and productive one. This troubled DT though couldn’t be any farther from either of those attributes.