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DJ & P2: The Past, Present & Future

The new core of the Arizona Cardinals is producing while two members of their old core look broken

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re Patrick Peterson or David Johnson, a twitter search of their names is not for the faint of heart...

“2015 was years ago.”

“I’m done with David Johnson, my bad, I misspelled Patrick Peterson.”

“Someone send David Johnson to the Tampa sideline so Arians can chew him out like old times.”

Patrick Peterson’s year is like if Eric Bledsoe was playing football.”


Of the core of 4 players including Larry Fitzgerald and Chandler Jones, there has been legitimate criticism of both players who have been largely irrelevant for the majority of the year.


The Cardinals’ Pro-Bowlers and two of their most successful players ever are David Johnson (who set rookie records and had an insane run from 2015-2016) nearly becoming the 3rd RB in NFL history with 1,000 rushing and 1,000 receiving yards.

Peterson has been perhaps the most consistent cover corner in the NFL since he came into the league, being able to man up with any WR1 in the league and limit/erase them from the game plan allowing the rest of the defense to flow and boost the defense overall.

Both guys there’s an argument for Ring of Honor potential (especially Peterson) and both have seemed to have been in the team’s longterm plans, with Johnson signing a large contract last year and Peterson (despite trade requests) seemingly not available with the team wanting to essentially make him a lifetime Cardinal.

Both were some of the lone bright spots on a 2018 3-13 Cardinals team where Johnson still got 1,500 yards and almost double digit TD’s and Peterson was in a zone scheme that didn’t fit him but his production didn’t exactly fall off a cliff, and he showed ability to make great blitzes and improved as an open field tackler.


What happened?

Johnson’s looked noticeably slow and the explosion hasn’t been there since the preseason. Meanwhile Patrick Peterson was busted for PED use, apparently got 2 more games for a coverup and after returning has caused not only his legacy to take a bit of a hit but he’s struggled in his return against some of the top wide receivers, was offsides on a costly mistake allowing the Bucs to attempt a second field goal.

And he took an injury that might indeed be serious in the game as well.

What happened? The N.F.L. aka “Not For Long” league.

It’s kinda clear that Peterson, in retrospect, might have been having a reason to take the PED’s, and even if it was a one-time issue, the fact that there’s now been a door open to doubt the veracity of his character isn’t good.

And for Johnson? I think it’s fair to question if Johnson’s got the same will/desire to break tackles in running the football versus being the plodding back that he seems to become. It’s fair, as an older running back, to think that he’s hasn’t lost a step, but potentially two steps.

Plus, his impact in the passing game just wasn’t felt with a catch that was almost immediately fumbled back to the Buccaneers. Could it turn around? Sure. But it doesn’t seem like it. And these are intended core players.

What it means is that Steve Keim, once again, swung and missed in the self-evaluation of the Arizona Cardinals. He paid Johnson like a top 5 back with years left on his rookie deal (granted RB’s getting paid has been a huge issue regardless around the league) and has seemingly had the intention of paying Peterson despite the past trade request rumblings.

After all, they didn’t trade the 29 year old at the deadline two years in a row from a rebuilding team...despite the fact that there were confirmed reports that the Eagles offered a package including a first round pick for him and that Tampa Bay & Bruce Arians considered trading for him in the offseason.

So what’s next?


There seems to be one way this is all going....

Right now, the Cardinals have 1 year left of Patrick Peterson and he’ll be 30 years old by that point. David Johnson will be 28 years old. The Cardinals had 3 TD’s from two 22 year olds in Murray to Kirk and while Larry Fitzgerald is still making some crazy catches...

The negativity and vitriol, sadly, is unearned in my opinion.

It’s two former stars who look like anything but with two different outcomes.

Peterson seems to have loved the game so much that he’s pushed himself to the limits to play it at a high level, and there’s a narrative that’s hard to ignore that he’s loved it enough that he’s tried to use PED’s to push it past the physical limitations he seems to be hitting, which has cost him the past few games where he doesn’t seem to be able to keep up the same level of play.

Johnson, is on the other side, who seems to have a young wife & young son in his ear playing a physical position in which wear and tear is a given and he doesn’t seem to want to be injured, and certainly looks like it.

They’ve sacrificed their bodies for their career and for the fans and should be commended for it. BUT they’ve also chosen a league that does very little for its players except pay them and both are well off at this point with (ideally) their legacies in Arizona set no matter should they finish their careers. I think that’s the answer; you gotta trade them both.

It’ll be tough, as despite it you’d rather have Peterson and Johnson (healthy) on the field making plays than not. But they aren’t the reason why they’re winning anymore and that cost has gotten preeetty high to retain them for the production we’re seeing.

A trade is probably the best route to get some cap flexibility and even if you have to get back less (or give up a pick even, with David Johnson) it’s a move for 2020-2025, not for 2015.

And it also gives Steve Keim a graceful way to recoup at least SOME value similar to the Josh Rosen trade. Do you get maybe “fair” value? Not what you’d want.

Perhaps this ends up the “final” black mark on the record of the GM, who decided to forego a #1 draft pick to keep a 29 year old corner who looked like he’d quit against the Niners and had a decent (not great but not awful) game against the Bucs and potentially cost his team a chance at a win with an offsides penalty.

In fact, I HOPE that this is the final straw. Keim’s failure to self-evaluate has put the Cardinals in a 3-6-1 record despite making moves that would be closer to a contender.

It’s not likely gonna replace them, of course. But at least you’d rather sink resources into the future than try to hold onto the past.

2015 was 4 years ago. They’re not worth what Steve Keim thought they were.

You can at least can recognize that players are worth as much as someone is willing to pay for them and while it’s likely going to take YEARS to find someone to replace Peterson or someone who can push for 1,000/1,000 in a season, you’ve gotta adapt and accept reality as this is a game played by humans. And humans age.

So make the trades this offseason, Cardinals. Get what you can for both and embrace building around the Quarterback who nearly won them the game when Peterson and Johnson might have just lost it.

NFL could also stand for “Nothing forever, lasts.”

And the clock is ticking, Cardinals...