Steve Keim

Extra Points: Cardinals, Cooks, Gregory, Manhertz, McCluster

Larry Fitzgerald will be back for a 15th season in Arizona, and the long-time Cardinals wideout is set to hit free agency next offseason. Of course, the future Hall of Famer can’t envision himself playing elsewhere, as he essentially told Jace Frederick of TwinCities.com that he’d hang up his cleats if he wasn’t retained by Arizona.

“If I’m not playing in Arizona, I won’t be playing anywhere,” he said. “I’ve built a good life for myself down there. Playing in the same place for 15 years is a true blessing.”

Fitzgerald is one of only two players (along with Antonio Brown) to compile 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards over the past three seasons. Despite turning 35 years old this fall, Fitzgerald says he isn’t slowing down.

“It doesn’t really matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mind-set,” he said. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assumes this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • We learned earlier today that wideout Brandin Cooks had inked a five-year, $80MM extension with the Rams. NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora tweets that the new deal contains $20.5MM in guaranteed money and a $50.5MM injury guarantee. NFL.com’s Albert Breer clarifies (via Twitter) that the deal will actually total $81MM, with the $16.2MM average annual value trailing only Brown, Mike Evans and DeAndre Hopkins.
  • Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI, and the Cardinals subsequently fined and suspended the executive. Kent Somers of AZCentral tweets that there won’t be an interim general manager during Keim’s absence, as the team will ultimately divide his responsibilities. Terry McDonough will likely handle the “evaluation side,” while Mike Disner will focus on contracts and the cap. Somer adds that Keim won’t face further discipline from the NFL.
  • Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that Keim’s suspension “doesn’t preclude” the Cardinals from working out a long-term deal with running back David Johnson, echoing that Disner would likely negotiate the contract. The Pro Bowler skipped mandatory minicamp last month as he looks for a raise on his $1.8MM base salary.
  • Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz will start training camp on the physically unable to perform list, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. The 26-year-old underwent offseason surgery after suffering a Jones fracture in his left foot. The team is hopeful that Greg Olsen‘s primary backup will be ready for the start of the regular season. As Person points out, Manhertz’s absence will provide fourth-rounder Ian Thomas with an opportunity to contribute during training camp.
  • Earlier today, the NFL reinstated Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory on a conditional basis. Naturally, after appearing in only two games over the past two seasons, the 25-year-old is excited about the prospect of returning to the NFL. “I’m very excited,” Gregory said (via the Dallas News’ Jon Machota on Twitter). “Thanks to the ones who supported me and stood by me. It’s a lot more to the story than it seems and it took me a lot to get to this point. Now I’m ready to make some plays.”
  • Former NFL running back Dexter McCluster has caught on with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL (via CFL.ca). The 29-year-old played in six games with the Chargers during the 2016 season. During his four years with the Chiefs, McCluster compiled 662 rush yards, 1,500 receiving yards, and more than 2,000 return yards.

Cardinals Suspend GM Steve Keim

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim pleaded guilty today to extreme DUI. Shortly thereafter, the organization announced that they have suspended and fined the executive. The punishment stems from an incident earlier this month.

Keim will ultimately be suspended for five weeks and will be fined $200K. According to the team, that money will be donated to the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. During the suspension, Keim won’t be allowed to contact or visit the team. He also won’t be allowed to return until he completes “counseling and evaluation, in addition to a DUI education course.”

“As stated at the time of the incident, this behavior is indefensible and completely unacceptable,” the team said in a statement. “While Steve has accepted full accountability and responsibility for his actions, that does not diminish their gravity nor the severity of the consequences that result from them.”

Keim was cited for a DUI back on July 5th. He was booked and released that same night. Keim joined the organization as a college scout in 1999, and he quickly worked his way up the ranks. He was named general manager back in 2013, and he inked a four-year extension with the team in February.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Cardinals GM Steve Keim

We learned late last week that Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was cited for a DUI on July 5th. We knew then that Keim could face punishment under the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Today, team president Michael  Bidwill seemingly confirmed that fact, as he hinted that the executive could face “consequences” for his actions.

“First of all, I’m extremely disappointed,” Bidwill said during an interview with KFYI’s Mike Broomhead (via ProFootballTalk.com’s Josh Alper). “It’s inexcusable. He did bring it to our attention right away that night and has been extremely remorseful and contrite. He’s taken steps to make things right, but the reality is that there is a process in place that the league has and there are going to be consequences here.”

Alper points out that previous discipline under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy has led to suspensions and fines, and he opines that Keim’s blood alcohol concentration will influence any potential punishment.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss passes along additional details regarding Keim’s arrest. The general manager was seen drifting between two lanes, and the officer could “smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” after Keim was pulled over. The executive did give his name to the officer, but he claimed to be the team’s director of security. Keim was also unable to complete the physical components of the field sobriety test, citing a “pre-existing knee injury.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals GM Steve Keim Cited For DUI

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was cited for a DUI on July 5th, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.comKTAR News 92.3 (which first broke the news) says the executive was booked and released that same night. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Keim could face punishment under the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

“We are aware of the incident on Wednesday involving Steve Keim,” the team said in a statement. “He fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and that this type of behavior is unacceptable and inexcusable. Steve immediately alerted the team who in turn reported it to the NFL as required under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy. We are continuing to gather information and will handle the matter appropriately and in accordance with all league policies as well as within the legal system.”

“I truly regret my incredibly poor judgment and inexcusable actions,” Keim said. “Everyone associated with the NFL and its teams is held to a high standard of behavior and I obviously failed to meet that. I sincerely apologize to our organization and its fans as well as to my family. I accept full responsibility for my actions and hold myself completely accountable. Moving forward, I will take the steps to ensure that I never put myself or the Cardinals in this type of situation again.”

Keim initially joined the organization as a college scout in 1999, and he quickly worked his way up the ranks. He was named general manager back in 2013, and the Cardinals won at least 10 games and had a pair of playoff appearances during his first three seasons at the helm. Back in February, Keim signed a four-year extension with the team that would last through the 2022 season.

This is the second offseason incident for the organization, as second-round wide receiver Christian Kirk was arrested for disorderly conduct and property damage in February (with the news emerging following his selection in the draft). Michael Floyd was the last member of the organization to be arrested for a DUI, an incident that ultimately led to his release.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Extend GM Steve Keim

The Cardinals announced that they have signed GM Steve Keim to an extension. The new deal will keep him in place through the 2022 season. Steve Keim (vertical)

[RELATED: Latest On Larry Fitzgerald]

Keim’s contract is roughly in line with that of newly-hired coach Steve Wilks. Wilks’ contract is a four-year deal with a team option for the ’22 campaign.

Keim took over as the Cardinals’ GM in 2013 and the results have been largely positive. In that span, Bill Belichick (Patriots), John Schneider (Seahawks), Kevin Colbert (Steelers), and John Elway (Broncos) have accumulated more wins. The Cardinals have missed the postseason for the last two seasons, but they still feel that Keim is the right man to help them retool and get back into the playoff picture.

Steve’s performance and accomplishments as Cardinals GM speak for themselves,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “His role in the team’s success over the last five seasons is undeniable. This new contract ensures that he will continue to shape our success going forward and we are thrilled about that.”

Keim will have his work cut out for him this offseason. Armed with just $22.7MM in cap room, the Cardinals will have to address their murky quarterback situation while filling other holes on both sides of the ball.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals To Be Aggressive In Free Agency

The Cardinals entered the 2016 campaign as a popular Super Bowl pick, but they ultimately stumbled to a 7-8-1 record, easily the worst mark of the Bruce Arians era. Although their on-field performance was troubling enough, the fact that two of the franchise’s cornerstones, Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, are approaching the ends of their careers has only intensified the concerns in the desert.

Oct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim before a NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Although both Palmer and Fitzgerald will be back for the 2017 season, it is clear that Arizona needs to start planning for life without them. Nonetheless, the Cardinals still have a talented roster, so it makes sense for them to try and stay aggressive while their championship window is still open. And, as Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com writes, GM Steve Keim plans to do exactly that.

During a recent interview, Keim discussed whether or not his club would make a “splash” move in free agency, saying, “I don’t know what you would consider ‘splash,’ but we’ll certainly be aggressive and keep our foot on the gas pedal, try to keep pushing this thing in the right direction. There’s no doubt we took a step back last year. We’ve got to pick up the pieces and make some good decisions this offseason.”

Arizona does have roughly $38MM in projected cap room, and Chandler Jones could eat up a chunk of that room if the Cardinals put the franchise tag on him or sign him to a long-term deal — Keim reiterated that the tag was a real possibility — but outside of him, the club does not have many of its own free agents that they must re-sign (Calais Campbell will get a lucrative payday, but given his age, he probably won’t be out of the Cardinals’ price range if they choose to bring him back).

In addition to being aggressive in free agency, Keim did note that the team has to carefully balance long- and short-term goals, as he never wants to enter a true rebuilding phase. He said, “It’s a tough double-edged sword for me. There are guys like [Palmer] and [Fitzgerald] where you know the end is sooner rather than later. So you have to try and build around them and, so to speak, go for it now.

“But that’s our mindset every year. We’re never in a rebuilding phase. To me, you owe it to your fanbase to go for it every year, to be aggressive either in free agency or the draft. But you also have to keep in mind that you are going to do the right thing for the organization for the long-term. That’s the biggest challenge.”

So who might the Cardinals pursue on the open market? Our Dallas Robinson recently took a look at the team’s top three offseason needs, and while it will be difficult to address two of those three needs — a true No. 1 receiver and a long-term quarterback solution — in free agency, the club will certainly be able to spend money on a cornerback or two to provide Patrick Peterson with a much-needed running mate.

But as Keim said, “There isn’t any position, if we feel we can significantly upgrade that spot, that we won’t either draft a player or sign a player in free agency.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steve Keim Not Ready For Cardinals Rebuild

Viewed as one of the NFC favorites after ascending to the NFC West title and the franchise’s second conference championship game since the merger last season, the Cardinals have joined the Panthers in putting together an underwhelming follow-up effort.

But GM Steve Keim does not see this as a sign to blow up the team and orchestrate a rebuilding process. Keim said during a radio appearance Monday he sees the potential for this group to make another run in 2017.

I really do feel like there are enough good quality core pieces in place, not only contractually, but with age,” the fourth-year GM said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via Bob McManamon of the Arizona Daily Republic). “We have a nice core of defenders, and I think we have some talent on offense. So whatever happens after the season, whether it’s players moving on or continuing to stay on or whatever it may be, I don’t think it’s a situation where it’s a complete revamp of this team to make it better.”

Arizona slunk to 4-6-1 after the loss in Atlanta. It’s not necessarily out of the realm of possibility the Cardinals make a last-ditch playoff push, as they sit less than two games out of the wild card, but it’s looking unlikely. And major offensive pieces are in or nearing the twilight of their careers. Carson Palmer will turn 37 next month and has not come close to resembling his 2015 version, and Larry Fitzgerald — who will be 34 in 2017 — has been linked to retirement rumors. His supporting-cast wideouts are mostly off their 2015 respective paces as well. Starting linemen Mike Iupati and A.Q. Shipley will also be over 30 next season.

However, the Cardinals’ defense ranked third in Football Outsiders’ DVOA entering Week 11, when it surrendered 38 points. Plenty of young talent remains there, although some starters are impending free agents.

I think it’s going to be just some different pieces and we’ll continue to stay aggressive and I can tell you, as disappointing as things are, I’ve never been more excited to continue to try and improve this team and put this organization in a good position to succeed,” Keim said.

The Cardinals have the expiring contracts of Chandler Jones, Tony Jefferson, Calais Campbell and Michael Floyd to deal with after the season but stand to possess upwards of $37MM in cap space in 2017. Keim will need to make some key decisions since some key members of that talented defense are coming off the books soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Chancellor, Cardinals, Draft, Jets

Four-time Pro Bowl Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor hasn’t been shy about voicing his disenchantment with his current contract, going so far as to sit out all of last summer and then the first two games of the season in an effort to land a better one. Though that gambit backfired, he’s in no hurry to leave Seattle. Chancellor took to Instagram on Wednesday and posted a picture with the message: “I’m not going anywhere.” The 27-year-old also wrote, “Seattle is my Second home. I don’t plan on going anywhere unless some higher power places me elsewhere.” Chancellor has two years remaining on his deal.

More from around the NFL as we wrap up Wednesday…

  • The right side of the Cardinals’ offensive line will consist of newly signed Evan Mathis (guard) and D.J. Humphries (tackle), while A.Q. Shipley is the current starter at center, according to general manager Steve Keim (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team’s website).
  • On the other side of the ball, newly acquired pass rusher Chandler Jones will shift from defensive end – where he played in New England – to outside linebacker for the Cardinals, per Keim. The deal to land Jones took about three days to execute, the GM added (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). It’s worth mentioning that defensive ends cost more to franchise tag than linebackers ($15.701MM to $14.129MM this year), which could impact Jones – who will be a free agent next offseason.
  • Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple has lined up visits with more than 16 teams, including the Rams, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jaguars, per Rand Getlin of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings has met with the Buccaneers, Steelers, 49ers and Lions, he told James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • Receiver/returner Jordan Norwood will join linebacker Courtney Upshaw in visiting the Jets on Thursday, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Norwood, 29, has played sporadically with three different teams since entering the league in 2009. He spent last season with the champion Broncos, amassing 22 receptions and 11 returns, and set the record for the longest Super Bowl punt return (61 yards).

Cardinals, Tyrann Mathieu Discussing Extension

Last month, we heard lining up an extension for Tyrann Mathieu resided as a top offseason priority for the Cardinals. The team’s making good on those intentions and is negotiating a long-term deal for the standout defensive back, Cardinals GM Steve Keim tells James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link).

The Cardinals are being proactive with their former third-round gem, with the window for a Mathieu extension just recently opening after the former LSU star finished his third season.Tyrann Mathieu

Mathieu’s agreement will undoubtedly make him one of the highest-paid defensive backs due largely to the fourth-year Cardinal’s versatility. The 23-year-old Mathieu earned first-team All-Pro honors despite tearing his ACL against the Eagles in Week 15.

Pro Football Focus listed Mathieu as its top-rated cornerback, bestowing a 91.6 grade on the Cardinals’ hybrid performer — well clear of its No. 2 outside stopper, Darius Slay. The top individual analytics site lists Mathieu as a corner due to his extensive work in the slot when Arizona shifted to its sub-packages. The Honey Badger’s officially listed as a safety and played there when the Cardinals went into their base defense, but that was only 33% of the time.

So, Mathieu can at the very least expect a contract in line at least in the top bracket of safeties and will probably aim to be paid among the league’s best corners in these negotiations.

Earl Thomas, Devin McCourty and Jairus Byrd are the only safeties to earn $9MM per year on average. Mathieu’s age, elite athleticism and potential ascent could put him clear of each of those performers and place him among the highest-paid defensive backs.

The Cardinals already gave Patrick Peterson a top-market deal that averages $14.01MM per season. That accord ranks behind only Darrelle Revis in terms of AAV. Seven corners average eight-figure earnings, with several members of that group not on Mathieu’s level at present.

Keim also told Palmer (Twitter link) Mathieu’s rehab’s progressing on schedule, with the GM professing Mathieu’s on track to be back at full strength.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images

NFC Notes: Seahawks, Eagles, Cards, Falcons

Bellevue, Wash., police arrested Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman in October on investigation of vehicular assault and hit-and-run, but they released the 26-year-old without charges the next day. They’re now recommending the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charge Coleman with felonies for both offenses, Jennifer Sullivan and Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times report. The prosecutor’s office will take the next several weeks to determine whether to file charges against Coleman, who was driving a Dodge pickup at a “high rate of speed,” according to police, and struck a Honda Civic traveling the same direction.

The police report, which was released Monday (per Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com), says Coleman’s truck was going 60 in a 35-mph zone, and his foot was on the accelerator at 100 percent for several seconds. That pushed the other vehicle 260 feet off the roadway up a hill. It then flipped over. The driver went to the hospital with a head injury and a fractured left clavicle, while police found a barefoot Coleman two blocks from the scene. Stephen W. Hayne, Coleman’s lawyer, said the accident dislodged Coleman’s hearing aids, which may have left him disoriented and caused him to leave the scene. The report reveals Coleman admitted to smoking “Spice,” synthetic cannabinoids, and showed signs of impairment. Police found multiple bags of synthetic cannabinoids and various drug paraphernalia in Coleman’s truck. However, there were no signs of drug consumption in the blood tests Coleman underwent several hours after the accident. Despite that, Coleman – whom police accused of driving in a manner that was “rash and heedless” and “indifferent to the consequences” – could now be in serious trouble.

The four-year veteran is set to become a restricted free agent.

Some notes on the NFC’s other bird-themed teams:

  • It’s currently unclear who will quarterback the Eagles next season. If newly extended tight end Zach Ertz has his way, the club will re-sign pending free agent Sam Bradford. “I’ve played for five quarterbacks now in three years, which seems like a lot, and I want to play with Sam,” Ertz said, per Bob Ford of Philly.com. Ertz added that Bradford hopes to remain with the Eagles. “He wants to be in Philadelphia. Whether he’s back here or not, that’s none of my business, honestly. He’s going to do what’s best for him and the Eagles are going to do what’s best for us. But at the end of the day, I think he wants to be here.”
  • The Cardinals finished a below-average 20th in the NFL in sacks during the regular season and took down Panthers quarterback Cam Newton just once in their 49-15 NFC title game loss on Sunday. As a result, the Cards’ top offseason priority will be strengthening their pass rush, general manager Steve Keim said Monday (per Darren Urban of the team’s website).
  • Despite playing his entire rookie year with a torn right labrum, Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley will not have offseason surgery, according to head coach Dan Quinn (link via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution). As Ledbetter writes, some labrum tears can be treated without surgery. Beasley led the 2015-16 Falcons with four sacks, a franchise record for rookies, and will look to build on that next season without having to deal with a shoulder injury.