Odegard: Steve Keim Never Went All-In, Should Be Out As Cardinals General Manager

The Philadelphia Eagles struggled against the run in their lone loss to the Commanders a couple weeks ago.

What did GM Howie Roseman do? He signed Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh, continuing a campaign to pack as much talent as physically possible onto the roster, future concerns be damned.

The Los Angeles Rams felt like they were on the cusp of contention last season, and what did GM Les Snead do? 

He mortgaged the future to add Matthew Stafford, Von Miller and Odell Beckham, Jr., three catalysts in their eventual Super Bowl championship.

The Cardinals began last season 7-0, kicking off what should have been a three-year stretch of championship contention. 

But GM Steve Keim never took his big swings, and it ended up being a fatal whiff.

Keim didn’t bolster the cornerback group with Stephon Gilmore or try to add Beckham in 2021, and when Arizona began to flame out, there was nothing to be done to stop it.

This offseason’s free agency period was the biggest miscalculation of them all, as the Cardinals chose to re-sign subpar players rather than infuse new game-changing talent — and that lack of gumption to push all-in should cost Keim his job.

Team-building is easy when you have a star quarterback on a rookie contract, so it was no surprise to see the Cardinals improve from 3 to 5 to 8 to 11 wins the past three years. 

But once the iron is hot, a general manager must strike. Deal premium draft picks, manipulate the salary cap, lean on every edge possible to build a super team and bring a Super Bowl to Arizona. 

The Cardinals added Hollywood Brown this offseason… and that was it.

Keim’s horrific decision to sit idly by was never more obvious than Monday night, when the Cardinals were outclassed in every which way by a 49ers team brimming with the type of talent he was supposed to collect.

You could call the 38-10 loss the nail in the coffin, but most knew this group was dead on arrival in 2022 because the talent didn’t stack up to true NFC contenders.

The Cardinals are dealing with many injuries to key players right now, and it’s a valid excuse as to why the blowout loss looked so bad. But there have been stretches this season in which Arizona was pretty healthy, and it never once looked like a good football team.

Go ahead and choose the signature win this year. The miracle comeback against a Raiders team that is now 3-7? A home win over a below average Saints team that was missing key receivers and cornerbacks?

The defensive front was terrible again on Monday. The linebackers failed to live up to their draft status again. An old and oft-injured offensive line was unavailable again. The depth pieces were not up to the challenge again.

The Cardinals are 4-7 and in contention alright — for a top-5 draft pick, not a Super Bowl.

Last year, the greatness of players like Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins covered up holes and tricked Keim into thinking his roster was on the precipice of something special.

Instead of working feverishly to add to it, he was passive, content with running it back in 2022.

The odds of making this year’s playoffs are now +1600, as the Cardinals will almost certainly go another year without a postseason run.

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For those counting at home, Arizona has one winning season since 2015 and zero playoff wins. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the man who has overseen the team for the entirety of that span.

This is not at all the way it’s supposed to go in the five-year window with a cheap star quarterback.

A general manager builds and builds and builds, eventually unveiling his Taj Mahal for the world to see. Keim never finished his piece de resistance, and now the cracks in the facade are mounting.

And facade is a good word for all of this, right?

The Cardinals looked like a title contender for a few precious months last season, teasing fans with the prospect of long-awaited greatness. But the general manager thought the core was good enough despite the protestations of so many, and it torpedoed any chance at a title.

The Cardinals have to pull off a perfect offseason in order to springboard back into contention in 2023.

It’s apparent Steve Keim should not be the architect tasked with pulling it off.

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