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Foresight 20-20 on Hightower trade

One of my regular Facebook correspondents, Jeremy, is an Arizona Cardinals fan I met down at University of Phoenix Stadium a couple of seasons ago.

Jeremy reached out over the weekend to say the Cardinals would happily undo the Tim Hightower trade now that running back Ryan Williams is out for the season. He characterized Hightower's trade to the Washington Redskins "premature" and lamented what Arizona received in return (Vonnie Holliday and a sixth-round pick).

I pulled a Ken Whisenhunt at this point, noting that hindsight was 20-20. As Whisenhunt suggested, no one could have reasonably known Williams would suffer a torn patella tendon. But it wasn't hindsight in Jeremy's case. Looking back at our conversation, he questioned the trade back on Aug. 5:

I think Hightower's departure was premature. At least until the Cards know what they have in the Beanie [Wells]/Williams duo. I was looking forward to having all three. Nothing wrong with having too many quality backs fighting for carries. That's a good problem to have. I don't think the return for the Hightower trade was worth sacrificing a quality option at RB. Especially for a team that needs to surround [Kevin] Kolb with as many options as possible in order to make the initial sell to the portion of the fanbase that's critical of the Kolb deal, myself not among them.

Trading Hightower brought clarity to the running back position while improving the Cardinals' veteran depth on their defensive line. The team was ready to move forward with Wells and Williams. Both were going to need extensive work in practice and in preseason games. Hightower probably wasn't going to command appreciably more value later in the process.

But with Williams on injured reserve, there's no question Hightower would have greater value to the Cardinals at this time. Jeremy gets credit for having the foresight to question the trade weeks before Williams' injury made this a relevant subject again. My biggest concern with the trade from Arizona's perspective was whether the team could trust Wells or Williams in pass-protection to the degree it could trust Hightower. But there was little chance Hightower was going to stick on the roster if all parties were healthy. And there was no way to predict which players might get hurt.

Think of it this way: What if the Cardinals had held off on the trade, only to have Hightower suffer a serious injury during camp or the preseason? We'd be wondering why the Cardinals held onto a depreciating asset.