Since becoming General Manager of the Arizona Cardinals Steve Keim has found a good bit of success in the free agent market
The Arizona Cardinals’ front office is most likely working overtime these days. A huge component of their recent offseasons, the free agency period, is just around the corner, and with twenty-plus of their own players set to hit the market, free agency will be especially important this time around.
Since becoming the Cards’ GM in 2013, Steve Keim has missed on some of the players he has brought to the Valley. Finding free agents that fit is not an exact science, but along with the misses, Keim has had more than his share of hits.
It was a fantastic homecoming for Karlos Dansby when he returned to the desert as a free agent in 2013. The inside linebacker went nuts, accumulating 122 tackles, six and a half sacks, four interceptions, nineteen passes defensed and two touchdowns. Despite these incredible statistics, he was somehow snubbed by Pro Bowl voters.
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One of Keim’s greatest finds was undrafted safety Tony Jefferson, also in ’13. Over the past four years, Jefferson has transformed himself into one of the NFL’s best at his position. He’ll be looking to cash in as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Keim again struck gold in his first season as GM with pass rusher extraordinaire, John Abraham. The former Atlanta Falcons’ star provided Arizona’s defense with a premium pass rush, registering 11.5 sacks. His efforts in ’13 landed him in the Pro Bowl, but concussion concerns pretty much wiped out his 2014 campaign.
In his second year as the Cards’ front office head honcho, Keim acquired perhaps the best and most important free agent of his tenure. Left tackle Jared Veldheer has been the anchor of the Cardinals’ offensive line since his arrival. He was able to shore a position that had long been an Achilles heel of the organization.
Another huge signing in 2014 was cornerback Antonio Cromartie. “Cro” combined with Patrick Peterson to form one of the league’s best corner tandems in the one year they played together. His 49 tackles, three picks and 10 passes defensed got him voted a Pro Bowl alternate.
Another huge piece for the offensive line arrived via free agency in 2015. Mike Iupati has made 28 starts for Arizona, and was voted to the Pro Bowl following his first season with the squad. He’s one of the best run-blockers in the league, and is a key to the success David Johnson is having.
Dwight Freeney arrived in the middle of the 2015 campaign, and brought with him a pass rush in the same way Abraham did in ’13. He led the club in sacks (8) for the year despite playing in just 11 contests.
Safety D.J.Swearinger was signed as a free agent in the latter part of 2015 after two teams had previously given up on him. He was excellent this past season, and will look to parlay his strong play into a rich, free-agent deal this offseason.
With over 20 of their own free agents slated to hit the market in March, Cards’ management has their work cut out for them. If they hope to contend for next year’s Super Bowl, they’ll again need more hits than misses on their targeted players. Hopefully, Keim will be able to mimic past successes.