Arizona Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim has found success in the free agent market, but has made some mistakes as well
Making acquisitions as the general manager of the Arizona Cardinals is far from an exact science. One of the toughest aspects of the job appears to be deciding which free agents to bring to the desert. Sixth-year head man Steve Keim has gotten good returns on many of the investments, but there are other decisions that have gone awry.
Ted Ginn Jr. was signed to a three-year contract back in 2014, but lasted just one season with the Cards. Keim thought he was acquiring both a dynamic return guy, and downfield pass-catching threat on offense. Ginn Jr. had one game-changing, punt-return touchdown against the New York Giants, but was mostly just a waste of the owner’s money.
Sean Weatherspoon arrived in 2015 to help ease the void created by a Daryl Washington suspension. But the linebacker’s reluctance to play through a preseason hamstring injury put him directly into former coach Bruce Arians’ doghouse. The former Atlanta Falcons’ star received limited playing time from then on out, and finished ’15 with just 11 total tackles.
Weatherspoon wasn’t the only linebacker flop that year. Lamarr Woodley, a former Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers, contributed just 10 tackles and one sack in 10 appearances. The veteran accused former Arizona defensive coordinator James Bettcher of not listening to his players, a claim that was never substantiated by anyone else.
Drew Butler was brought to the club in 2014 to handle the punting duties, and somehow stayed around for three years. The son of former Cardinals’ placekicker Kevin Butler was a disaster through most of his tenure with the squad. Butler was particularly horrendous during a 2015 playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers, when he averaged a career-low 34.8 yards on nine punts.
Keim was lauded when he got guard Evan Mathis inked to a one-year deal in 2016. Unfortunately, the two-time Pro Bowler played in just five games with Big Red. A season-ending ankle injury sidelined the charismatic lineman in week five, and Mathis never played again.
Jasper Brinkley was one of Keim’s first signings in 2013, his initial year as the organization’s GM. But the former Minnesota Viking completed just one campaign with the Cards, though he was supposed to be with the franchise for three. Brinkley made 15 uninspiring appearances (three starts), tallying just 23 tackles, and was sent packing the following offseason.
Finally, Jonathan Dwyer was brought in by Keim in 2014, and lasted for just two games. The running back was arrested at team headquarters for head-butting and breaking the nose of his wife. Dwyer was reportedly angry with her for refusing to have sex with him.
They can’t all be winners. No NFL general manager has a perfect record when it comes to free agent choices. The goal is to keep the failures to a minimum, and Keim has actually done a fairly good job of doing that throughout the years.