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Robert Nkemdiche's Short, Messy Cardinals Career Is Over

Illustration for article titled Robert Nkemdiche's Short, Messy Cardinals Career Is Over
Photo: Ross D. Franklin (AP)

Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, a first-round pick for the Cardinals in 2016, was released by Arizona on Saturday evening after just his second day at training camp. It came one day after new coach Kliff Kingsbury complained that Nkemdiche had shown up out of shape.


Nkemdiche tore his ACL in December and was still on the Physically Unable to Perform list when he reported to camp on Friday. Kingsbury immediately expressed his displeasure with Nkemdiche’s conditioning.

“Not in shape, I guess,” the usually reserved Kingsbury said. “And that’s kind of where we’ll leave it. I mean, he’s on PUP and he’s working through that. When he is cleared, we’ll work with him.”

What probably played just as big a role in sealing Nkemdiche’s fate was the contract clause that promised him a $400,000 bonus if he was on the roster on the fifth day of camp.

Nkemdiche battled injuries throughout his time with Arizona, appearing in just 27 games over three seasons, and when he was healthy, his play was spotty, totaling 44 career and 4.5 sacks. He was also arrested twice in two separate traffic stops this June, a month after the Cardinals declined his fifth-year option for 2020. On the whole, it’s not what the Cardinals were hoping for when they took the Ole Miss star with the 29th overall pick in 2016; they thought they had gotten a steal, after Nkemdiche’s draft stock had dropped following a bizarre incident in which he fell from a fourth-floor hotel room window(!) and was charged with marijuana possession.

Nkemdiche doesn’t turn 25 until September, so some other team will undoubtedly give him a shot. In a way, this makes him lucky, because so many people who move to Arizona never leave.

Deputy editor | Deadspin