A season of tumult and adversity continues for the Cardinals this year as the team announced that general manager Steve Keim would be taking an indefinite leave of absence. Arizona’s announcement detailed that the absence is health-related, but due to legally required privacy, the team “will refrain from commenting further.”
After a short career as an offensive lineman in the NFL and CFL, Keim quickly found his course in personnel. Keim joined the Cardinals’ scouting department as a regional scout in 1999 and has worked his way up the ladder, remaining with Arizona for 23 years, serving the last 10 of which as general manager.
During Keim’s tenure with the franchise, the Cardinals have booked a Super Bowl appearance, played in two NFC championship games, and secured five postseason berths. Keim took over a 5-11 Cardinals team in 2012 as GM, quickly helping to turn the team around to a 10-6 record in his first season at the helm, just missing the playoffs in a competitive NFC. They would make the playoffs the following year and lose to the Panthers in the NFC championship the year after that.
The hurdle of Keim’s absence adds to a season that started with a suspension for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and has weathered the slump of quarterback Kyler Murray‘s fourth year that ended with a season-ending ACL tear. The team’s staff has experienced its own setbacks, as well. Formerly the Cardinals co-pass game coordinator with Cam Turner, Spencer Whipple has been serving as the team’s third running backs coach of the season following the administrative leave of James Saxon to deal with personal legal matters and the departure of his replacement, Don Shumpert, who left to pursue other opportunities. Former offensive assistant Mike Bercovici was promoted weeks ago to tight ends coach when Steve Heiden, the team’s longest-tenured assistant coach, was asked to coach the offensive line following the dismissal of Sean Kugler for a sexual harassment incident that occurred during the Cardinals’ trip to Mexico City.
This is not even Keim’s first leave of absence from the team. Keim received a five-game suspension back in 2018 after pleading guilty to extreme DUI charges. This is his first reported absence since that incident, though.
In Keim’s absence, the team will turn to vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris and vice president of pro personnel Adrian Wilson to fill his role on an interim basis. Harris was a defensive back for the team back in the early 2000s and has been a member of Arizona’s scouting/personnel staff since 2008. This is his second year in his current position. Wilson was a long-time star safety for the Cardinals from 2001-12, earning multiple Pro Bowl appearances and a first-team All-Pro selection. Like Harris, Wilson joined the Cardinals as a regional scout shortly after his retirement as a player and quickly rose through the ranks. He is also in the second year in his current position.
The two will take over a 4-9 Cardinals team on the brink of postseason elimination. With no word on how long Keim will be away from the team, Harris and Wilson will not only be focused on maintaining the roster for the rest of the year but also preparing for the personnel-related tasks that will immediately follow the season like the draft and free agency.