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Young cornerback Trayvon Mullen traded to the Arizona Cardinals in a stunning deal

Vincent Frank

A second-round pick of the Las Vegas Raiders back in 2019, cornerback Trayvon Mullen was expected to be one of their starting cornerbacks heading into the 2022 season.

Mullen will likely start for an NFL team in 2022. It just won’t be with the Raiders. In what can easily be considered one of the biggest surprises around the NFL in recent weeks, Las Vegas has traded Mullen to the Arizona Cardinals ahead of Week 1. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports that Mullen would have actually been released if a trade did not come to fruition. Las Vegas receives a conditional seventh-round pick that could turn into a sixth rounder based on playing time.

Arizona adds more depth at cornerback after youngster Marco Wilson struggled as a rookie a season ago. He was expected to see extensive playing time with the likes of Antonio Hamilton and Byron Murphy this season. It wasn’t a great cornerback situation in Arizona with the team forced to go up against the likes of Allen Robinson, Cooper Kupp, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the NFC West.

Related: Ranking NFL defenses heading into 2022

Las Vegas Raiders purge of players continues with Trayvon Mullen

Trayvon Mullen
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier on Tuesday, it was noted that Las Vegas had waived 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood. This is just the continuation of the Raiders’ brass purging itself of mistakes made by former head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock. Simply put, the new power duo of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have no interest in keeping their mistakes around.

Las Vegas will now roll with the combination of veteran additions Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett as its likely starters on the outside with youngster Nate Hobbs able to also play boundary in addition to his nickel spot.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings

Arizona Cardinals get upside with Trayvon Mullen

Still only 24, Mullen can bring a lot to the table for a Cardinals squad that has lacked depth at cornerback in recent seasons. As noted above, Wilson struggled as a rookie last season, yielding an absurd 120.8 passer rating when targeted. Antonio Hamilton wasn’t much better in that regard. Teaming Mullen up with Byron Murphy (87.6 QB rating allowed in 2021) could help the Cardinals compete in a top-heavy NFC West this season.

Despite missing all but five games to injury in 2021, Mullen displayed promise in limited action as a rookie. He was considered a first-round talent out of Clemson in 2019 and showed out as a rookie.

  • Trayvon Mullen stats (2019): 56% completion percentage, 78.3 QB rating allowed

Arizona hopes that the youngster can return to form as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. The cost of a late-round pick makes this a win-win for the Cardinals.