The Cardinals have a new coach in Steve Wilks. They’re teed up for a new starting quarterback, too, after Carson Palmer called it quits following 15 seasons in the NFL.
Team owner Michael Bidwill made it clear that Arizona will address the most important position in sports with a sense of urgency this offseason.
“The quarterback thing will come. I don’t want to sound like we’re being cavalier about it but we’ve got to wait for free agency to start to see who is out there,” Bidwill told “Doug and Wolf,” on “98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station” on Tuesday, per the team’s official website. “I know we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to have a plan.”
Bidwill emphasized his trust in general manager Steve Keim, recently signed to a contract extension through 2022, and talked about an offseason strategy centered around leaving no stone unturned. Trade avenues will be explored, along with free agency and the draft to find Palmer’s successor.
Kirk Cousins sits out there as the clear-cut prize of the open market, but Arizona could also pursue breakout performer Case Keenum or even fellow Vikings passer Teddy Bridgewater on the open market.
“Steve’s performance and accomplishments as Cardinals GM speak for themselves,” team president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “His role in the team’s success over the last five seasons is undeniable. This new contract ensures that he will continue to shape our success going forward and we are thrilled about that.”
Keim’s contract had been set to expire following the 2018 season, though the team held an option year for 2019.
The new deal ties Keim and his new coach at the hip. Both are inked through 2022.
Keim is going into his 20th season with the Cardinals. He was promoted to GM in 2013 after previously working as the Director of College Scouting (2006), Director of Player Personnel (2008), and Vice President of Player Personnel (2012).
Under Keim, the Cardinals have a 49-30-1 record in the regular season, the seventh-best winning percentage (.619) in the NFL since 2013, per the team. The 49 wins the past five years are the most in any five-year span in franchise history.
Keim added that the presence of Johnson and Fitzgerald, who only just announced this week his intention to return, might entice a QB to test the desert in free agency.
“It will affect the recruitment part of it if in fact it’s through free agency. There is no doubt Larry Fitzgerald’s name and his reputation carries a lot of weight,” Keim said. “We will, if we go down that path, certainly use Larry and David Johnson and all the other current stars on our roster to try to make sure any potential franchise quarterback understands that this is a special place.”
With Carson Palmer retiring and Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert hitting the open market, Arizona is without a paddle under center. Sitting at the 15th spot in the 2018 draft, the Cardinals might miss the opening run on first-year quarterbacks too, so exploring their options in free agency (Plan A) will be vital.
With the aging Fitz returning to play out the final year on his deal, might the Cards be looking to give it one more serious go in 2018 and contend for the postseason with a veteran QB acquired through free agency, say Kirk Cousins?
Even if a deal to secure the biggest fish in the football sea doesn’t come to fruition, Keim and the Cardinals insist they will be ready for whatever comes next.
“There are some free agents out there that are worthy. When you get to the draft process, it’s an inexact science. It’s purely projection,” Keim said. “Whether you are taking one in the top 10 or trading up to the top 10, you better be sure you’re going to be right on that pick.”