Arizona Cardinals: Monti Ossenfort made one giant mistake in 2023

Arizona Cardinals general manager Monti Ossenfort made one thing clear in 2023: He was bringing in his guys and building the team his way.
Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears
Arizona Cardinals v Chicago Bears / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

You have to credit general manager Monti Ossenfort for doing his best in Year 1 to clean up what was arguably the worst mess in the NFL. Sure, it was going to lead to a bad season, but Ossenfort realized early that the Steve Keim guys weren’t taking this team anywhere, as had been the case since Bruce Arians left. 

It’s appropriate to mention Arians, because Keim isn’t winning any Executive of the Year Awards without the retired coach. And you have to wonder how much of Keim’s early success should he credit to Arians, and the answer is, in hindsight, probably a lot, considering the way the Cards played between 2013 and 2017 compared to what we saw between 2018 and 2022. 

So it begs the question: Why didn’t Monti Ossenfort just make a few more trades involving Keim’s guys? Listen, Zaven Collins is nothing more than a role player in this league, so why try to reinvent him into an EDGE rusher? 

Sure, it made sense, given Collins’ build and quickness, but if the Cards decide not to keep him on board following 2023, his trade value diminished. Maybe he wasn’t worth much more than a fourth or fifth-round pick to begin with, but if Ossenfort tries to trade someone like Collins between March and August 2024, he’ll get roughly what he got for the underwhelming Isaiah Simmons

Rumors surrounded safety Budda Baker last offseason, and he was once the star of the Cardinals defense. But once again, he was a Keim guy who never helped the Redbirds become anything more than an above-average football team in their best years during his time in Glendale.

Arizona Cardinals GM let the value of some Keim guys diminish in 2023

Ossenfort, at worst, could have gotten a second-round pick for Baker, but instead, he gave the safety a raise and watched as the 27-year-old became nothing more than primarily a downfield tackler in 2023. Should Baker want out of Glendale and mean it this time, good luck to Monti Ossenfort getting anything close to a second-rounder. 

This isn’t saying that in hindsight the Arizona Cardinals should have rolled with a tank, or anything like that. It is saying that Ossenfort’s actions showed us he wanted little to do with Keim’s guys except for a small handful that included Kyler Murray, Trey McBride, James Conner, Jalen Thompson, Will Hernandez, and perhaps even Marquise Brown, even if he’s probably not coming back. 

But then again, even Brown had value earlier in the year, and that value is now long gone in Week 17. Here’s what this article is saying: Ossenfort, given his actions on getting rid of Keim’s guys this season, should have traded them away while they still had more value. 

Now, he will get next to nothing for all of the aforementioned players should he continue this roster overhaul - and he will - this offseason. He could have had more draft capital or even a developmental player or two to work with. Now, he’ll be lucky to get Day 3 picks for guys like Baker should he trade him, nothing at all for Brown, and perhaps a seventh for Collins. 

Again, this isn’t endorsing a tank after the fact - it is endorsing a roster cleanout that would have set the stage for 2024 a little better than it did throughout the season. And it would have at least somewhat maximized the value for Keim’s guys. But, other than this little mishap from Ossenfort, he’s done a great job this year in overhauling this roster.