At first glance, the outside linebacker position for the Arizona Cardinals seemingly looks set.
Markus Golden headlines their group as he led the team with 11 sacks in 2021. Dennis Gardeck re-signed with the Cardinals on a three-year deal during the offseason. Eight-year veteran OLB Devon Kennard restructured his contract to remain in Arizona. The Cardinals drafted two outside linebackers in Cam Thomas and Myjai Sanders in the third round this past draft. And their 2021 sixth-round pick Victor Dimukeje is battling for a roster spot.
It is fair to say that they have a very crowded group edge rushers albeit some being on the unproven side.
However, that is not stopping GM Steve Keim from exploring the free agent market as he tries to bolster their defense.
According to Cowboys reporter Michael Gehlken for the Dallas Morning News, former Atlanta Falcons’ first-round pick Takkarist “Takk” McKinley is set to visit with the Cardinals after meeting with the Cowboys yesterday.
Following a positive visit, Cowboys won’t be signing ex-Falcons edge defender Takk McKinley at this time, two people familiar with situation said. Nothing to be read into — this was original plan. McKinley intended to take multiple visits, and he will. The Cardinals are up next.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) July 31, 2022
McKinley (6-2 260lbs) put on a show in his final year at UCLA as he set career highs across the board in tackles (61), tackles for loss (18), sacks (10), forced fumbles (3), and passes defensed (6). He ran a blazing 4.59 40-yard dash and did 24 bench press reps at the NFL Combine. His impressive senior season along with his athletic testing numbers earned him the Falcons’ 26th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft.
His first two years in the NFL were a promising one as he notched 13 sacks and 84 total pressures. He spent the first four years of his career in Atlanta before being waived off their roster in 2020 after a trade request. In that same year, he was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers but had a failed physical designation twice due to a nagging groin injury.
Despite finally being able to land with a team in the Las Vegas Raiders, shortly after signing, he was placed on injured reserve and never played a snap for the team.
Last season, McKinley signed a one-year $4.25 million deal with the Cleveland Browns where he started two of 11 games and recorded 2.5 sacks on the season. Unfortunately the injury bug made its way back as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in December against the Raiders that ended his season.
In his five years in the NFL, he tallied 97 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, and three forced fumbles while making 27 starts in 60 games.
Though he has played 4-3 defensive end his entire NFL career, McKinley would be a 3-4 outside linebacker in Vance Joseph’s defense if he signs with the Cardinals.
At only 26 years old, Takk McKinley still has plenty of upside.