The Arizona Cardinals promoted Steve Keim to general manager at a time when the team lacked a quarterback and head coach. Five years later, he received a contract extension after facing the same situation.
Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer both retired after the 2017 season, leaving massive voids to be filled in the coming offseason. Injuries have ruined the Cardinals’ playoff hopes in back-to-back seasons, but the overall run with Keim at the helm of the personnel decisions has been promising. The team had double-digit wins and made the playoffs twice in his first three years as GM.
Per the team, via NFL.com, they’ve had the seventh-best winning percentage in the league since 2013. That lone statistic was enough to ensure the Cardinals didn’t lose their GM, along with their head coach and quarterback.
“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 has already set in motion his blueprints for the future by naming forming Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks as the new head coach. That Ron Rivera coaching tree is closely tied to Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, whose fingerprints are all over several great coaches in the NFL, including Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.
However, the most pressing concern on Keim’s agenda remains the vacancy at quarterback. It’s the one position that has the potential to make-or-break everything he hopes to accomplish with the Cardinals in the future. Depending on how the 2018 NFL Draft shapes out, he could be in position to select one of the talented rookie quarterbacks declaring for the NFL this year, or he could use the team’s first-round draft pick elsewhere and go after a veteran player that can make an immediate impact.
Kirk Cousins is expected to be a free agent this season, along with Minnesota Vikings signal-callers Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Any of those four options should provide the Cardinals with a good starting point. Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron could also be available if he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
It’s back to ground zero for Keim in shaping the future for a Cardinals team that flirted with championship contention in 2015 but failed to get over the hump. If last season taught us anything, it’s that a team could literally be a few moves away from building a playoff contender.
The right quarterback could have the Cardinals once again playing football in January.