NFC West Reporters
After three stints as head coach in 10 years, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell must finally find a coaching and general manager tandem that will align, establish a sustainable winning culture, and lead Kyler Murray to reach his full potential.
Bidwell announced on Monday that Kliff Kingsbury had been relieved of his duties. The 43-year-old head coach signed a contract extension until the 2027 season just ten months ago. The team also announced that GM Steve Keim has resigned after retiring from the team last month due to health issues. Like Kingsbury, Keim signed an extension through the 2027 season during the off-season.
“We’re going to live with the financial consequences,” Bidwell told reporters when asked how he would handle the remaining years of Kingsbury and Keim’s contracts.
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The Cardinals finished last in the NFC West, 4-13, which led to the changes. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe are reacting to the news.
Bidwell said he has already interviewed two internal candidates for Cardinal’s general manager position—vice president of player personnel Quentin Harris and vice president of professional personnel Adrian Wilson. The two took over Keim’s duties last month.
During his seven-year tenure as general manager, Keim has had his share of swings and misses topping the draft board, including broke quarterback Josh Rosen, along with lukewarm performances from recent first-rounders in safety Isaiah Simmons and linebacker Zaven Collins.
Keim traded Arizona’s 2022 first-round pick for wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who missed five games that season through injury. The Cardinals have No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
Arizona could use some stability on the coaching front, as in more than 100 years as a franchise there has never been a head coach who has been at the helm for more than six years.
“We’re going to cast the net far and wide and do it differently than we’ve done in the past,” Bidwell said of the search for a GM and head coach.
In addition to the internal GM nominees, the Cardinals have also reportedly sought interviews with San Francisco 49ers director of pro staff Ran Carthon and 49ers assistant general manager Adam Peters, as well as Ian Cunningham, assistant GM of the Chicago Bears, and Monti, director of player personnel for the Tennessee Titans, asked Ossenfort.
Bidwell serves on the league’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. He said he prefers to hire a general manager first and then have that person help hire a new head coach. However, Bidwell didn’t rule out hiring a head coach first.
Current Arizona defense coordinator Vance Joseph is a potential candidate for the vacant head coaching position.
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The Cardinals reportedly intend to approach the New Orleans Saints for permission to interview former head coach Sean Payton. However, hiring Payton would require draft compensation, and the financial cost could be more than the Cardinals are willing to spend, especially if they get into a bidding war with other teams.
But landing someone like Payton is what Arizona needs. The Cardinals haven’t won a playoff game since 2015, the last time Arizona won the NFC West. Payton has a Super Bowl win to his credit and has successfully developed Drew Brees into a Hall of Famer-worthy quarterback. He could give Murray stability and structure to develop into an elite QB.
Finding a coach to get the best out of Murray should be near Bidwell’s top list after he signed the Oklahoma product on a five-year, $230 million extension last offseason. Murray underwent surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament in his right knee last week and is unlikely to have fully recovered by the start of the 2023 season.
“We want to make sure we have the culture of that dressing room, the culture of our organization that’s really focused on maximum effort to make sure we do whatever it takes to win the NFC West,” Bidwell said.
The owner said he spoke to a handful of executives in the dressing room to get their thoughts on the general manager and coach search. That group will include Murray.
Bidwell noted that the Cardinals were one of the hottest teams in the league going 10-2 at the start of last season. Since then, Arizona has won 5-18, including seven straight losses, to end the 2022 season.
“Thirteen months ago we were the hottest team in the league,” said Bidwell. “You all saw it. There were teams that were down a few years ago that turned around and are now in the playoffs. So I feel like we can turn things around quickly. We need to get that. Here’s the right coach, the right general manager. We can do it. We have a lot of talent in this team.”
Much like what Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll achieved with Russell Wilson, Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh with Lamar Jackson, or Atlanta Falcons’ Dan Reeves with Michael Vick over 20 years ago, Bidwell needs to find an experienced head coach who can achieve the best of Murray for the Cardinals to reach their full potential.
“I don’t know if we’re as broken as people might think,” Bidwell said. “Our record is terrible. But if you look at the talent on this team, we have a lot of talent. We just have to make sure they all play together.”
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Eric D. Williams has been covering the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
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