Steve Keim’s Inactive 2022 Free Agency has a Silver Lining for 2023
By Brook Lord
Being frugal with their signings will give Arizona Cardinals some extra draft capital next year.
It’s an old adage in the NFL: If you have a chance to make your team noticeably better, you do it today and worry about the rest later. Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim has mentioned this many times himself.
So it’s no surprise that fans critical of Keim’s approach to Free Agency this year have fairly pointed out that his “measured patience” might also be described as a “wasted opportunity.”
The Arizona Cardinals were very vocal about their all-in mentality last year, so it would have been reasonable to expect a similar strategy in 2022. After all, this is the last year QB Kyler Murray will be playing for relative peanuts.
But the way things shook out, it quickly became apparent that Keim was operating with three words in the back of his mind: Compensatory pick formula.
Simply put, a team that loses more qualifying free agents than it signs is awarded a commensurate amount of “comp” picks, which can fall anywhere from Round 3 to Round 7.
It all depends on a formula that weighs heavily toward contract value and cuts off after about the top-700 NFL contracts in average money per year. The website overthecap.com does an excellent job of breaking it all down.
The Arizona Cardinals lost four free agents and signed three, but the only ones who got deals large enough to qualify are Christian Kirk, Chandler Jones, and Chase Edmonds. Steve Keim was surely keeping score along the way.
The Arizona Cardinals are likely to get three Comp picks in 2023
None of this is official, but the new CBA made the comp pick formula much more transparent. When all the deals are listed in order, the one Jacksonville handed out to Kirk rises straight to the top. That means Arizona will almost certainly be awarded the top third-round comp pick, which will be Pick 97 overall.
The deal Las Vegas gave to Chandler Jones would have also returned a low 3, except since Jones has ten years of service, he can only fetch a 5. So expect Arizona also to receive the top 5th round comp pick.
Finally, Chase Edmonds was scooped up by Miami in a deal that will likely net Arizona a sixth-round comp pick.
It’s justifiable to question Steve Keim for not making many moves after the way the Cardinals’ season fizzled out in 2021 (and knowing what we know now about the DeAndre Hopkins suspension). However, there were definitely some chances to improve the roster that Keim chose to pass up.
It’s also justifiable to look at some of the funny money that was being thrown around in March and realize that not spending much during the 2022 Free Agency period could pay off for Steve Keim down the road.
The Arizona Cardinals will now have some extra capital in the 2023 Draft as the organization begins to surround a soon-to-be pricey franchise QB with cheaper talent.
So in a bit of irony, not making moves and absolutely worrying about the rest in 2022 could give Steve Keim and the Cardinals a chance to be noticeably better in 2023.