On Tuesday it was officially announced that Haason Reddick would be moved out of the “starting” rotation and play more in the nickel situations. I put starting in quotes because if he is playing nickel from a snap count perspective he’ll likely be on the field more in six of the final eight games of the season.
However, the demotion of Reddick highlights something I have struggled with when it comes to Steve Keim.
He is continually chasing the same position, over and over again.
When Keim was elevated to General Manager, they decided to pay Daryl Washington his massive signing bonus that he was owed, hoping he would be the leader of the defense Keim would construct.
In the subsequent draft in 2013, the Cardinals drafted Kevin Minter with the 45th pick.
Washington would play 12 games with... Karlos Dansby as the starter and Minter would play one defensive snap in 2013, as Jasper Brinkley replaced Washington in the starting lineup until he returned.
In season two (2014), Minter played 317 snaps even though Daryl Washington was suspended the entire season and the starting inside linebacker position was manned by .
Minter was passed over for players like Sam Acho and newly drafted $ backer Deone Bucannon.
Minter was obviously meant for the role Foote was in and Bucannon was a first round pick who would transition from strong safety to linebacker.
Minter and Bucannon would go on to be the starting linebacker duo for 2015 and 2016, but the Cardinals had invested heavily in them, so it was a good thing.
Minter would walk in free agency and the Cardinals would replace him with newly drafted Haason Reddick in 2017.
Reddick was moving from defensive end to off ball linebacker in the NFL so he was going to require time and that meant round three of Karlos Dansby and some Josh Bynes because Reddick just was not ready.
In 2018, it was all supposed to come together.
Reddick was going to be able to take on the Thomas David role, Deone Bucannon would play the Shaq Thompson role and the Cardinals could deploy their two first round linebackers together.
Instead, it was Reddick and Bynes, with Bucannon dealing with injuries and ineffectiveness and now it was time to let another highly invested in linebacker to leave.
In 2019 the Cardinals signed Jordan Hicks to a big deal.
So, over a seven season stretch the Cardinals have:
2013 - Paid Daryl Washington bonus and drafted Kevin Minter
2014 - Drafted Deone Bucannon and signed Larry Foote
2015 & 2016 - Finally get Minter and Bucannon on the field together
2017 - Drafted Haason Reddick and signed Karlos Dansby (Minter leaves via FA)
2018 - Reddick and Bynes lead in snap counts
2019 - Sign Jordan Hicks (Bucannon leaves via FA)
The Cardinals got two seasons worth of production out of their investments at linebacker through the seven seasons.
Every other season resulted in change, signings or more draft picks being used.
Keim’s biggest issue is not just that he misses, it is that he doubles and triples down on those misses.
The Cardinals have used three picks in the top 45 on off ball linebackers and have 113 starts out of those players to show for it, out of 256 available starts.
Moreover, they still have a huge hole at off ball linebacker that they again will have to address this offseason.