While nothing is certain yet, the Cardinals may be on the lookout for a new GM for the first time in 10 years. Steve Keim took a leave of absence earlier this month and, as of now, is not expected to be back. The Cardinals may be considering keeping their current setup — a dual-GM partnership between Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris — on a permanent basis, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Arizona has promoted from within to fill its GM post the past two times it opened, elevating Rod Graves in 2003 and then Keim in 2013. Bob Ferguson (1996) represents the franchise’s past outside hire for this post.
Wilson and Harris each played safety with the Cardinals, being teammates from 2002-05, and have worked in the front office for several years. Harris, the team’s VP of player personnel, has been on staff longer — since 2008, when he became a scout — while Wilson, the VP of pro personnel, enjoyed a much longer playing career. Wilson has been a Cards staffer since 2015. Harris interviewed for the Giants’ GM gig this year; Wilson interviewed with the Jaguars. Whomever lands the Arizona GM job will have some pieces to pick up after a turbulent year, and a coaching search could commence.
Here is the latest from the NFC West:
- When the Seahawks acquired Drew Lock from the Broncos, the front office viewed him as the likely starter, Brady Henderson of ESPN.com notes. Believing they knew what they had in Geno Smith, Russell Wilson‘s backup for three seasons, the Seahawks were planning on Lock taking over. Smith’s contract — one year, $3.5MM — reflects this plan, but Pete Carroll consistently kept the former Jets second-rounder in front of Lock. While the Seahawks have faded since a surprising start, Smith made one the more unlikely Pro Bowl runs in recent QB history. The Seahawks want to re-sign him to a long-term deal.
- Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals did not know about J.J. Watt‘s retirement decision beforehand. The Cardinals signed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year to a two-year, $28MM deal in 2021. Despite Watt suffering another significant injury last season, he rebounded to re-emerge as one of the league’s top D-linemen this year. Watt will pass on a chance to join a contender in free agency next year, and it appears a near-lock he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2028.
- Colt McCoy cleared concussion protocol and will start for the Cardinals in Week 17, Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com tweets. Arizona faces Atlanta and San Francisco to close out its season. McCoy is signed to a two-year, $7.5MM deal.
- Brock Purdy has stepped in and kept the 49ers on course. Prior to Jimmy Garoppolo‘s injury, the team was open to re-signing him. Now, the prospect of Purdy keeping the gig over Trey Lance in 2023 is starting to surface. An anonymous exec told the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora he is growing more convinced the 49ers will trade Lance and stick with this year’s Mr. Irrelevant. With Lance on a rookie contract through 2024, that would be a wild call — even given Purdy’s early form. But teams would figure to be interested in the former No. 3 overall pick — even if he has only played one full season in his five since high school.
- Although the Rams tried to trade Cam Akers, they have turned back to him as their top running back. They should be expected to retain him in 2023, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Akers’ career path changed when he tore an Achilles’ tendon in July 2021, but he totaled 147 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns Sunday. Next season will be a contract year for the former second-round pick.
- Weeks after the Cardinals fired their offensive line coach, Sean Kugler, the dismissed assistant said he did not grope a female security guard in Mexico. Kugler is taking legal action against the Cardinals, whom he contends did not conduct a thorough investigation. The team released a statement (via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, on Twitter) conveying confidence the firing was for cause. Kugler worked for the Cardinals from 2019 until his November firing.