The Arizona Cardinals didn't have much use for Tim Hightower. He only got about 145 attempts per season with the Cardinals, which was about half the total attempts for a team that had the fewest rushing plays (320) in the NFL last season. Hightower finished his career with the Cardinals with 23 touch downs, 1,733 yards and 12 fumbles in three seasons.
The 24-year-old running back showed flashes of great ability but was also inconsistent and turnover-prone. It remains to be seen which is the real Tim Hightower, but so far the Redskins fans are thrilled to have him and he sounds thrilled to be there as the featured back.
After drafting Hightower in the fifth-round in 2008, the Cardinals went out and drafted Beanie Wells in the first round in 2009. The two backs were supposed to give Ken Whisenhunt a strong one-two punch in 2010 but he lacked confidence in either and instead gave the offensive responsibility to his string of failed quarterbacks.
Showing more lack of confidence in the Hightower-Wells combination, the Cardinals selected Ryan Williams in the second-round this spring. With rookie Williams showing so much promise and Wells being the better raw talent, the Cardinals shipped Hightower to the Redskins for 36-year-old DE Vonnie Holliday and a sixth-round 2012 draft pick.
We can't fault the Cardinals for making the trade in light of Williams season-ending knee injury. That can't be predicted. But if Hightower breaks out in Washington in a system that gives him more opportunity and is willing to overlook his five fumbles in each of the last two seasons, that will come back on the Arizona front office.
For his part, Hightower is excited for the opportunity and he's not showing it if he's bitter for the way he was treated by the Cardinals.
It’s hard to fathom that the Redskins have finally found themselves a back that can break the big run after giving up only a late round draft pick and the 36-year-old Vonnie Holliday. The fact that he was able to be had for that price shows what his former team thought of him, something that has to motivate Hightower here in Washington, his home area.
But rather than speaking ill of his former team, he’d rather focus on his new opportunity, where for the first time in several years, he’s wanted.
"I felt like I was here for a reason," he said of his trade to the Redskins. "I feel like the guys here in this locker room are a special team, and a special coaching staff ... It’s a great situation and it’s a great team."