Hiring Jeff Ireland to be their next general manager could give the Arizona Cardinals a better chance of acquiring Sean Payton.
Roughly a month has passed since ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that Sean Payton could have interest in being the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. A lot would have to happen for that dream to come true, but there may be a way for the Cards to increase their chances of landing the highly-coveted Payton.
Last Sunday, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports broke the news that Arizona owner Michael Bidwill is preparing to cut ties with general manager Steve Keim. That could lead the organization to Jeff Ireland, a respected NFL executive who’s been the assistant GM of the New Orleans Saints since 2015. Why would the Cardinals look to replace Keim with the 52-year old Ireland?
The reason for the Cards’ potential interest in Ireland should be fairly obvious. Payton was the head coach of the Saints for seven seasons (2015-21) while Ireland was working in the New Orleans front office. Do you see where we’re going here?
Jeff Ireland and Sean Payton could reunite with the Arizona Cardinals
A reunion between Ireland and Payton in the desert would be a fantastic one-two punch for the Arizona franchise. Before joining the Saints, Ireland made his bones as the general manager of the Miami Dolphins for six campaigns (2008-13). The Texas native was brought to South Florida by his mentor, Bill Parcells, who had previously worked with Ireland for four years (2003-06) with the Dallas Cowboys.
Besides being the right-hand man for New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis, Ireland was also named the club’s college scouting director. In 2017, Payton stated that the former Baylor University placekicker had done an “outstanding job” in his overhauling of the draft process with the Saints.
Ironically, Keim’s main weakness during his days with the Cardinals was his inability to build the squad’s roster through the draft. Ireland could obviously use the same expertise he employed in the New Orleans “War Room” with the Redbirds.
The Ireland-Payton combination could ultimately pay handsome dividends for the Cards. It’s now up to Bidwill and whatever advisors he may have to make it happen.
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