How does Robbie Anderson fit after trade?

NFL wide receiver Robbie Anderson goes from the Carolina Panthers to the Arizona Cardinals, but it remains to be seen how he fits in on the depth chart. 

As soon as Panthers coach Steve Wilkes sent Robbie Anderson to the locker room, onlookers expected Anderson’s rumored trade timeline to accelerate at the speed of light. There was no way Anderson found his way back to the field after blatantly disrespecting his coaches and turning away from teammates, and true enough, trade rumors turned true the very next day.

In less than 24 hours, the Panthers sent Anderson packing to a willing trade partner: the Arizona Cardinals. The Panthers accepted “undisclosed draft compensation for Anderson,” per NFL Network’s Nick Shook.

While the details remain to be seen, what can be ascertained is how the Cardinals will be able to deploy Anderson in the coming weeks.

How does Robbie Anderson fit into Cardinals depth chart after Panthers trade?

On the surface, seeing Anderson sent to Glendale and paired with Kyler Murray seems like a disproportionate win for the 29-year-old wide receiver. After all, Anderson struggled in his 2021 season with the Panthers, and his argument with the coaches only seemed to hurt any case for a trade. There wasn’t much to entice teams to begin with, so why would the Cardinals spring for Anderson immediately?

In truth, the 2-4 Cardinals have been struggling through the first six weeks of the season, losing to the Seattle Seahawks 19-9 on Sunday. What’s worse is that in that loss, the Cardinals also lost wide receiver Marquise Brown to a foot injury. Brown could be out for the remainder of the 2022 season.

That news may have pressured the Cardinals to pull the trigger on trading for Anderson that much sooner.

Without Brown for the foreseeable future, here is who the Cardinals have at wide receiver according to their depth chart:

  • DeAndre Hopkins
  • Rondale Moore
  • A.J. Green
  • Greg Dortch
  • Javon Wims

Hopkins’ six-week suspension lifts in Week 7, and Anderson is currently slotted in behind him. It should take Anderson at least a week to catch onto the new playbook in order to make any impact on the field, but it seems that once he joins on, he will be welcomed on a team that desperately needs depth at the position.

In Sunday’s game versus the Seahawks, tight end Zach Ertz actually led the team in receptions. Rondale Moore was right behind Ertz with six receptions totaling 49 yards, and Brown caught five receptions for 68 yards. Green caught two receptions for seven yards as he continues to be a non-factor in the offense — really, it’s been Brown, Moore and Ertz.

Hopkins is coming off a suspension and a 2021 season shortened by injury, but he will be coming in fresh and ready to steak downfield and reestablish his connection with Kyler Murray.

The running back situation also influences how Anderson will fit into Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Both James Conner and Darrel Williams are out, leaving Eno Benjamin and Keaontay Ingram. Benjamin caught a couple targets on Sunday, but the limited run game likely means the Cardinals will lean more on passing.

In the past, Anderson’s been known as a deep threat receiver because of how he was often utilized with the Jets.

“I know he’s had this moniker of being a deep guy only,” Carolina coach Matt Rhule said in 2020 via ESPN. “But he has a unique ability to track the ball. He’s courageous to catch the ball underneath. His catch-and-run skills are outstanding.”

“Maybe it was the system that he was in,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said at the time. “You know how this league works. When you’re labeled one way, that travels with you.”

Murray loves to throw the deep ball, but Anderson’s ability to traverse the middle on slant routes and carve up opposing defenses could offer Murray security on key third-down conversions. Still, Anderson can sprint for deep passes, but his ability to do it all may allow the Cardinals to be a little less predictable with Hopkins and Anderson lining up.

Although Anderson’s time with the Panthers came to a bitter end, there are powerful factors that make his case in Arizona even more compelling. Anderson needs a fresh start, and so do the Cardinals. If Anderson can tap into his 1,000-plus yard potential, this might be a win for all involved.

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