Steve Keim

Cardinals GM Steve Keim On FAs, McCoy, Kingsbury

The 9-2 Cardinals are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and a great deal of their success this season can be attributed to players ticketed for free agency in 2022. That includes running backs Chase Edmonds and James Conner, wide receivers A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, tight end Zach Ertz, outside linebacker Chandler Jones, and quarterback Colt McCoy.

Although the club is obviously focused on making a championship run right now, GM Steve Keim will be tasked with making sure Arizona’s window of contention doesn’t close after one year. However, it does not sound as though there will be any extensions between now and the end of the season.

In speaking about the difficulty of striking an in-season extension, Keim, during a recent appearance on 98.7 KMVP, said that such a move is possible, “[i]f we identify the guys we see as core players, and there are a lot of them with the success we’ve had, but it really is tough. A lot of times, guys want to test the market or it’s just not the appropriate time because they are so focused on football” (via Darren Urban of the Cardinals’ official website).

Keim added, “[t]here are so many moving parts to it, but there are a lot of guys we want to re-sign and make sure they remain Cardinals.”

One such player is McCoy, who has performed well this year in relief of the injured Kyler Murray. The Cards have gone 2-1 in McCoy’s three starts, thereby managing to stay atop the NFC standings, and the 31-year-old has completed over 75% of his passes for three TDs and one pick. Keim said that it is “highly important” to keep McCoy in the fold.

Meanwhile, head coach Kliff Kingsbury attracted the attention of the University of Oklahoma, and while the blue-blood collegiate program has now gone in a different direction, Keim knows what he has in Kingsbury.

“To me, it’s a compliment to our organization,” Keim said of OU’s interest in his head coach. “The guy has done a tremendous job. He and our organization have grown together. We’re really excited about the future when you look at the work he’s put in, the improvements he’s made, the improvements we’ve made with the roster.”

Urban says that, just as the Cardinals do not anticipate new deals for their top FAs before the end of the 2021 campaign, they are not presently working on an extension for Kingsbury. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that a Kingsbury extension is a major offseason priority, and that the 42-year-old may end up with a salary near the top of the head coaching pay scale.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray suffered an ankle injury towards the end of the Cardinals loss to the Packers last week. While there seems to be optimism that the franchise quarterback won’t be sidelined for all that long, general manager Steve Keim made it clear that the organization will be more than cautious with the young signal-caller.

“I know Kyler can play, he extremely tough, and I don’t think there are any questions in our organization internally about his mental makeup or his willingness to play through anything,” Keim said (via Darren Urban of the team’s website). “We have to be smart whether he is going to play or not and think about the big picture. We have to make sure we don’t re-aggravate something or do something that is going to hurt us later in the season. I know we will do the right thing and go through the checks and balances process and make sure the right decision is made.”

We previously heard that Murray’s sprained ankle could take anywhere from one to three weeks to get better. However, there was still optimism that the quarterback would be able to take the field for tomorrow’s game against the 49ers. It sounds like the organization will make it a true game-time decision.

If Murray is forced to miss time, Colt McCoy would likely take over as the team’s starting quarterback. Keim told reporters that he’s plenty confident in the veteran’s ability to take the field and compete.

“We really feel like he can sort of function at a high level in this offense,” Keim said. “That’s why we do what we do in the offseason. You don’t just build a team to think about the starters and the Pro Bowlers. You have to think about where your depth is going to be challenged.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals HC Kliff Kingsbury Clears COVID Protocols

Oct. 24: Kingsbury has cleared COVID-19 protocols and will be on the sidelines for today’s game against Houston, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The Cards are in search of a 7-0 start, and they are heavily favored to defeat the one-win Texans.

Oct. 16: The Cardinals are looking to improve to 6-0 tomorrow, but they won’t have their head coach on the sideline. Kliff Kingsbury has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t coach tomorrow’s game against the Browns, per NFL.com.

[RELATED: Chandler Jones Land On Reserve/COVID-19 List]

According to the team, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers will share head coaching duties during tomorrow’s contest. Per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter), Kingsbury will “script as much as he can” prior to the game, but the organization will be relying on a collaborative approach when the script inevitably goes awry. Garafolo notes that QBs Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy will even have a say on offensive play calling.

We heard earlier this week that edge rusher Chandler Jones had tested positive, and he’s unlikely to play tomorrow after showing symptoms. The team will also be without GM Steve Keim, who tested positive and won’t make the trip to Cleveland. QB coach Cam Turner and defensive tackle Zach Allen also tested positive and won’t travel with the team.

As a result of the positive tests, the Cardinals are now dealing with “enhanced COVID-19 protocols,” but the NFL doesn’t have any intention of rescheduling or postponing tomorrow’s game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured GMs In The NFL

When we ran down the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL, we found that less than half of the league’s current coaches have been in their positions for more than three years. That’s not quite the case with general managers, but there have been plenty of changes in recent years.

A handful of general managers have gotten to take their coats off and stay for a long while. Among coaches, Bill Belichick had joined his team prior to 2003. Here, you’ll see that five GMs have been with their teams since before ’03 (Belichick, of course, is also on this list). Two of those five – Jerry Jones and Mike Brown – are outliers, since they’re team owners and serve as de facto GMs. But the Patriots, Steelers, and Saints, have all had the same general managers making their roster decisions for well over a decade.

Here’s the complete list of the NFL’s longest-tenured GMs, along with the date they took over the job:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000[3]
  4. Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh Steelers): February 18, 2000[4]
  5. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  6. Rick Spielman (Minnesota Vikings): May 30, 2006[5]
  7. Thomas Dimitroff (Atlanta Falcons): January 13, 2008
  8. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010[6]
  9. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010
  10. John Elway (Denver Broncos): January 5, 2011[7]
  11. Les Snead (St. Louis Rams): February 10, 2012
  12. David Caldwell (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 8, 2013
  13. Steve Keim (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2013
  14. Tom Telesco (San Diego Chargers): January 9, 2013
  15. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014
  16. Ryan Pace (Chicago Bears): January 8, 2015
  17. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016
  18. Bob Quinn (Detroit Lions): January 8, 2016
  19. Jon Robinson (Tennessee Titans): January 14, 2016
  20. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017
  21. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017
  22. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017
  23. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017
  24. Marty Hurney (Carolina Panthers): July 19, 2017
  25. Dave Gettleman (New York Giants): December 28, 2017
  26. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018
  27. Mike Mayock (Oakland Raiders): December 31, 2018
  28. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  29. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019[8]
  30. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020[9]
  31. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020
  32. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 28, 2020

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. Belichick has been the Patriots’ de facto GM since shortly after being hired as the team’s head coach in January 2000.
  4. Colbert was initially hired as the team’s director of football operations and received the newly-created general manager title in 2011.
  5. Spielman was initially hired as the team’s VP of player personnel and received the GM title in 2012.
  6. While Schneider holds the title of GM, head coach Pete Carroll has the final say on roster moves for the Seahawks.
  7. Elway was initially hired as the team’s executive VP of football operations and received the GM title in 2014.
  8. In 2018, the Ravens announced that DeCosta would replace Ozzie Newsome as GM for Ozzie Newsome after the conclusion of the season. The Ravens’ ’18 season ended with their Wild Card loss to the Chargers on 1/6/19.
  9. Technically, the Redskins do not have a GM, as of this writing. Rivera is, effectively, their GM, working in tandem with Vice President of Player Personnel Kyle Smith. Smith may receive the GM title in the near future.

Cardinals Owner Backs GM Steve Keim

With eight total wins over the last two seasons, Cardinals fans are feeling antsy and some have pointed fingers at GM Steve Keim. In an interview with 98.7 Arizona Sports on Wednesday, owner Michael Bidwill made it known that Keim has his full support, despite the club’s recent lack of success.

He just picked a Rookie of the Year,” Bidwill said, referring to No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray (transcription via the team website). “He had a lot to do with hiring [head coach] Kliff Kingsbury. He’s done a lot of things right. I feel like we’ve certainly turned, and for as much as the Cardinals are going in the right direction, Steve Keim deserves a lot of credit for that. I hope fans realize that was a lot of his decision-making.”

Bidwill admitted that Keim’s draft record has been less than sterling, but he also pointed out some highlights of the GM’s resume, including the trade to acquire running back Kenyan Drake. Many questioned the wisdom of that move, given that the Cardinals were out of the playoff hunt and Drake is due for free agency in March. Still, Drake delivered, rushing for 5.2 yards per carry in his eight games with Arizona.

He has received his fair share of criticism,” Bidwill said. “Some of these draft picks didn’t work out. But you look at this last year, look at the number of starters who were not available for the defense and had they been available, things could have been, on the defensive side of the ball, much different. That had to do with injuries and other things you can’t blame the general manager for.”

Keim, with support from Bidwill, has nearly $54MM in cap space to work with, as of this writing. He’s also armed with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft as the Cardinals look to climb out of their rut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim On Drake, Fitzgerald, Offseason

It was somewhat surprising when the Cardinals traded for Kenyan Drake in advance of this year’s deadline, given that Arizona was clearly not going to make a postseason run and given that Drake is eligible for unrestricted free agency in March. But GM Steve Keim saw something he liked in the former Dolphins RB and wanted to secure exclusive negotiating rights with him.

Drake has not disappointed, averaging 4.8 yards-per-carry in his six games in Arizona to go along with five scores and 22 receptions for 130 yards. Keim touched on Drake’s future with the team and several other key issues facing the Cardinals this offseason, including Larry Fitzgerald‘s future, in an interview with Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.

On the Drake trade:

“The mindset of going into the trade, it wasn’t done because we had two backs that were injured and was sort of a stop-gap situation. If that was a the case, my mindset was I would’ve signed a guy off the street. We truly thought this was the type of player Kenyan Drake was. That’s why we made trade and hope this was the kind of success he would have.”

On his hopes of re-signing Drake, and when he might try to do it:

“As far as waiting until after the season (to re-sign Drake), that’s not necessarily the thing either. I would certainly love to have Kenyan Drake back. I think he fits in this offense and he really has given us a spark in many ways.”

On Fitzgerald’s future (for Fitzgerald’s thoughts, see here):

“We would love to have him back. We all know what he brings to the organization. But the one thing you want to do with a player like him is give him the respect he deserves. Allow him to make that decision on his own. But I will say this. This is maybe the most fun I’ve seen him have in the last four years. He’s playing at a high level. I know he likes [head coach] Kliff [Kingsbury] and I know he likes this offense. Doesn’t hurt to have a guy (in quarterback Kyler Murray) who can spin it to him like this too.”

Keim said he will look to upgrade the Cardinals’ O-line this offseason, though he thinks the team’s high sack total is partly due to Murray’s style of play:

“I think Kyler would be the first to tell you there have been quite a few sacks given up that are on him. There has been times when I thought our offensive line has given him the type of protection he’s needed.”

On Murray himself:

“[T]here is no doubt in my mind we hit it through the roof. It’s one thing to be ultra-talented, but the guys who are the great ones, just when everybody thinks they have worked hard and done enough, those guys go above and beyond. There are up late night watching film, trying to find little tells that people don’t see. Just so the speed of the game slows down.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals’ Keim On Kyler Murray, Josh Rosen

The Cardinals completely revamped their quarterback room this offseason by drafting Kyler Murray No. 1 overall. Drafting Murray meant ditching another talented young quarterback in Josh Rosen, which raised some eyebrows around the NFL. 

Here’s a look at Keim’s thoughts on that situation, and more, via The Ringer’s Robert Mays:

On drafting Murray and dealing Rosen:

You have to make the tough decisions and avoid the outside noise— ‘Why’d you give up on this guy? Why would you trade this guy?‘…It’s unprecedented. I took [Rosen] in the top 10. I just felt that [Murray] was a generational talent that I just couldn’t pass up.”

On Murray’s game tape from Oklahoma:

Every game, it was the same thing. He did something multiple times that you either said, ‘Wow’ or [I] had seen very few times in my scouting career….“For a lot of reasons, I didn’t want to like [him, but I did].”

On new head coach Kliff Kingsbury:

They thought he was a guy that had enough of a swag to him that the players respected him. [The Texas Tech team] looked to him for advice. He didn’t just concentrate on the offensive side of the ball.”

On Murray’s progress, so far:

I guess time will tell. But I certainly like the early returns.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Execs Believe Cardinals Targeting Kyler Murray

It started off as mere speculation, but now executives around the league believe the Cardinals are looking to target Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano writes

That idea started with an old quote from new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who said he would take Murray with the top pick when he was the coach at Texas Tech. Though Kingsbury has professed Josh Rosen as his guy, Cardinals GM Steve Keim made waves when he said Rosen was there quarterback “for now” earlier this week. Rosen later added fuel to the fire when he deleted all of his Instagram posts relating to the organization. Now Vacchiano says that many around the league see all the speculation coming to fruition.

“I really think he’s going No. 1,” one league source said. “He fits exactly what Kingsbury wants to do out there.”

Murray would seem to be a nice fit for Kingsbury’s high-flying offense. He possesses game-breaking mobility to go along with an accurate touch and an impressive deep ball. It is all just speculation at this point, but the possibility of Kingsbury getting Murray and flipping Rosen, the team’s top pick in 2018, for picks is becoming more of a reality the closer we inch to the draft.

Most current mock drafts tie the Cardinals to Ohio State star pass rusher Nick Bosa at No. 1, but Murray is being tabbed anywhere from No. 5-10. It wouldn’t be a shock to hear his name called with the top selection come draft day.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Mike McCarthy Not Interested In Cardinals’ HC Job; Latest On GM Steve Keim

We learned earlier this week that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is interested in the Cardinals’ head coaching job, which is expected to become available in short order. However, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that McCarthy does not want the gig after all, and that he is likely to sit out the 2019 campaign.

If that is the case, it is not for a lack of trying on the Cardinals’ part. La Canfora says that Arizona offered McCarthy control over personnel as well as the on-field product, but McCarthy is content to wait for the perfect opportunity, and it does not appear that the Cardinals’ job is particularly attractive at the moment. There is concern in coaching circles about quarterback Josh Rosen‘s long-term future, and the roster as a whole does not engender much optimism.

Of course, if McCarthy were to accept Arizona’s overtures, current GM Steve Keim would be fired. However, since the Cardinals are not likely to attract McCarthy or any other coach that would be a legitimate candidate to also run the personnel side of things, La Canfora says Keim is likely to return in 2019. Indeed, Keim has already been putting together a list of head coaching candidates in preparation for the upcoming hiring cycle.

One name on Keim’s list could be Jim Caldwell, whom the Packers have already interviewed for McCarthy’s former post. Albert Breer of SI.com reports that Caldwell is likely to be considered for the Cardinals’ job, and even if the team does the unexpected and retains current HC Steve Wilks, Arizona would be interested in Caldwell as a coordinator on Wilks’ staff, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Lauletta, Lee, Cards, Koetter

We learned earlier today that Eli Manning is increasingly likely to remain with the Giants in 2019, and the fact that New York does not presently have a legitimate replacement on its roster is a big reason for that. Indeed, although the team selected Kyle Lauletta in the 2018 draft and repeatedly indicated it wanted to give him some game action this year, Lauletta’s first appearance in a regular season NFL game — during garbage time in last week’s blowout win over the Redskins — did not go well. Lauletta has now been demoted to the team’s No. 3 QB, where he spent most of the season, and he is inactive for the club’s game today. As Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com suggests, that move speaks volumes about where Lauletta is in his development.

Let’s round up a few more NFC items as the Week 15 early afternoon games get underway:

  • Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is active today for the first time since November 5 and will play a reserve role behind rookie phenomenon Leighton Vander Esch, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Lee still provides value when healthy, but Jane Slater of the NFL Network tweets that Lee told the team he did not want to start and interfere with Vander Esch’s progress. It remains to be seen how Lee will be deployed moving forward.
  • At the beginning of this month, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network said the Cardinals were going to reassess their front office and coaching staff at the end of the season, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reaffirms that report today. JLC writes that Arizona is mulling sweeping changes, and some sources say it would be a “major surprise” if first-year head coach Steve Wilks keeps his job. The bigger question, according to those sources, is whether GM Steve Keim is retained, but if he is not, he is a strong candidate to join the Raiders‘ front office.
  • The Buccaneers are expected to move on from head coach Dirk Koetter at the end of the season, but La Canfora writes that Koetter is still highly-respected as an offensive coordinator and plenty of teams with OC vacancies this offseason will be pursuing him to fill that role. Koetter’s own OC in Tampa, Todd Monken, will also be a highly-coveted offensive coordinator candidate in 2019 assuming the Bucs cut ties with him.
  • The Eagles remain committed to Carson Wentz, and Nick Foles is expected to hit free agency in 2019.
  • Jay Gruden‘s future with the Redskins is uncertain, but Alex Smith is out of the hospital and there is optimism that he will be able to resume his playing career.