After a couple of disappointing seasons as the Arizona Cardinals’ general manager, Steve Keim appears to be righting the ship
Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals must have thought he had it made. Success had come easy following his first two years as the club’s general manager. Being named Pro Football Talk’s NFL Executive of the Year for both the 2013 and 2014 campaigns had to have done wonders for Keim’s confidence.
However, Keim would soon discover that success in the league is fleeting. Two consecutive non-winning campaigns by the Cardinals put the front office’s head honcho directly under the microscope. Not a fun place to be, especially for an individual who just a couple of years before could seemingly do no wrong.
Fortunately for the Cards and their fans, the beleaguered Keim appears to be turning things around. Less than a month ago, the sixth-year GM engineered a draft that’s been receiving rave reviews. One pick in particular has brought an exorbitant amount of praise to Keim.
Much of the criticism directed at the Arizona management team had to do with the fact that they had no franchise quarterback on the roster. Keim pulled off a shrewd move during the first round of last month’s draft to insure that the team would finally be landing one. The Cardinals traded up from the 15th spot to number 10, and then selected heralded passer Josh Rosen to lead them into the future.
By all accounts, the UCLA gunslinger looks like the real deal. The aggressiveness that Keim displayed in moving up to get the prospect that the Cards had targeted was especially impressive. The drafting of wide receiver Christian Kirk and offensive lineman Mason Cole also has earned Keim accolades.
Arizona’s annual dilemma at the number-two cornerback spot has also been addressed. Keim is being applauded for sending a measly sixth-round draft pick in 2020 to the Cleveland Browns for the talented Jamar Taylor. The 27-year old cover guy is a welcomed addition, and is expected to step right into the starting role that the squad so desperately needed to fill.
Another area of the Cardinals that also seems to be a yearly problem is the offensive line. Keim made a free agent splash back in March by acquiring the respected Justin Pugh. The former New York Giant was signed to a five-year, $45 million deal, and will start at right guard.
Keim inked a few other solid free agents to contracts, as well. Quarterback Sam Bradford will lead the Arizona offense until Rosen is ready to play, and then serve as a mentor for the rookie thereafter. Brice Butler will get to contribute as a pass-catcher, and Andre Smith will take over for the traded Jared Veldheer at right tackle.
While all of these acquisitions look good on paper, it’s their on-field performances that will really determine the success of the offseason. Being under the microscope is an undesirable place for a general manager to be. Redemption in the NFL is a beautiful thing, and Keim appears to be well on his way to achieving it.