In January 2013 Steve Keim was promoted to general manager of the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, he has made 16 trades of varying success.
Keim has rarely made roster changing moves via trade, preferring the avenues of free agency and the draft to build his team. To his credit, the few ‘big’ trades he has done have mostly been successful.
I attempt to judge each trade based on a combination of the quality of the deal at the time while analyzing how each component panned out.
Here is my ranking.
1. Arizona acquires DeAndre Hopkins + ’20 4th Rd FOR David Johnson + ’20 2nd Rd + ’21 4th Rd – March 16, 2020 - Houston Texans
I cannot give full credit to Keim for this trade. Texans GM/Head Coach deserves a shoutout for allowing this ridiculously lopsided trade to happen in the first place. The market value for a receiver in his prime is a first-round pick (e.g. Cooper, Diggs, Cooks). However, Keim managed to get perhaps the best in the game for a backup running back and a second-round pick. To fully judge this trade, of course, we will have to wait to see how Hopkins performs in a Cardinals jersey. In addition, how Keim manages the new contract Hopkins will reportedly demand will be important. Nonetheless, this trade has completely flipped how Keim is viewed throughout the NFL.
2. Arizona acquires Carson Palmer + ’13 7th Rd FOR ’13 6th Rd + ’14 7th Rd – April 2, 2013 - Oakland Raiders
Keim’s first ever trade as GM was an absolute masterstroke. Palmer cost next to nothing after the Raiders decided to move on from the then 33-year-old. The following seasons would see Palmer play the best football of his career and making Arizona one of the best teams in the league. Palmer was a second-team pro bowler and second-team all-pro in 2015. Arians described it as "the trade of century by Steve Keim." This was the centrepiece of the Arians era all thanks to some Keim genius.
3. Arizona acquires Chandler Jones FOR Jonathon Cooper + ’16 2nd Rd – March 15, 2016 - New England Patriots
The last to Keim's clear best ever trades; Arizona acquired a potential future HOFer in Chandler Jones for a first-round bust and a second-round pick. At the time of the trade, Jones was coming off a 12.5 sack season that culminated in a pro-bowl nod. In his time as a Cardinal, Jones has 60 sacks. In the history of recorded sacks, only 12 players have had 60 or more sacks in a stretch of four seasons. Cooper was a bust as a top-10 pick, so being able to get a premier pass-rusher was a stroke of genius by Keim capitalizing on Jones nearing the end of his rookie deal. The Jones, Palmer and Hopkins trades can all be argued to be Keim's best in their own right.
4. Arizona acquires Kenyan Drake FOR ’20 Conditional Pick – October 28, 2019 - Miami Dolphins
After injuries to David Johnson and Chase Edmonds, Arizona traded a conditional draft pick (5th or 6th rd) in exchange for a talented running back with arguably underwhelming numbers in Kenyan Drake. This trade was questioned, especially with Drake being on the last year of his contract. If he left after the season, it was seen to just be a waste of a draft pick. ESPN graded this a C- minus for Arizona. Drake answered all doubts – producing the best numbers of his career in the second half of the 2019 season. With Drake recently announced to be returning for a year, Steve Keim found a number 1 running back for a cheap draft pick. This is a prime example of Keim jumping at the chance to acquire talent from a team that might not know what they have.
5. Arizona acquires Marcus Cooper FOR ’18 7th Rd – September 2, 2016 -Kansas City Chiefs
A good trade here. Marcus Cooper was acquired from Kansas City for a 7th rounder. After starting as the fourth cornerback on the depth chart, Cooper would go onto to have the best season of his career. He finished with a career-high 69 tackles, 11 pass deflections and a team-high 4 interceptions. He was named as an alternate for the 2017 Pro Bowl. Cooper became a free agent, and despite interest by Arizona for him to return, his price was too high according to Bruce Arians.
6. Arizona acquires Jamar Taylor FOR ’20 6th Rd – May 18, 2018 - Cleveland Browns
In the 2018 offseason, Arizona brought in Jamar Taylor to start opposite Patrick Peterson. This was a solid deal by Keim to get a potential solid starting corner for a 6th rounder. Taylor was put on the trade block by the Browns allowing for a cheap gamble by Arizona. He would go onto play 10 games for the Cardinals, starting 3, before being released in November. Overall a good trade that did not pan out.
7. Arizona acquires ’19 2nd Rd (Andy Isabella) + ’20 5th Rd FOR Josh Rosen – April 26, 2019 - Miami Dolphins
For the months leading up to the 2019 draft, the big question was whether Arizona would stick with Josh Rosen or go with the exciting Kyler Murray with the first pick. Reports changed every day making it unknown when Keim and co. finally decided Kyler was their guy. Steve Keim got too cute with his handling of Rosen, trying to not show his cards until it was too late. As a result, a very late 2nd rounder and a future 5th were all he could get for the previous year’s #10 pick. By holding on until day 2, Keim lost bidders for Rosen and thus a lot of his negotiation power. Andy Isabella’s name was the one called – with Kingsbury the one believed to be his biggest supporter. Isabella so far has been a disappointment which only hurts the valuation of this trade (not helped by the fact DK Metcalf went two picks later). If Isabella can make an impact, this trade may be viewed better. As of now, however, Keim could’ve done better.
8. Arizona acquires Adrian Peterson FOR ’18 6TH Rd – October 10, 2017 - New Orleans Saints
This was an unnecessary trade by Keim. For a 6th rounder, Arizona (who were the oldest team in the NFL at the time) acquired a 32-year-old past his prime who was never going to be a long-term solution at running back. Peterson had decent enough numbers as a Cardinal: 448 yards and 2 touchdowns in 6 games. But it stifled the growth of Kerwynn Williams and Elijhaa Penny. Peterson was not re-signed after the season making it a waste of a pick.
9. Arizona acquires Marcus Gilbert FOR ’19 6th Rd – March 8, 2019 - Pittsburgh Steelers
This deal had slightly mixed reviews at the time it was announced. On one hand, Marcus Gilbert was a cheap upgrade for the atrocious Arizona offensive line and an instant starter. On the other hand, he was 31 years old with injury concerns – the narrative of the Cardinals’ o-line over the past few years. On September 10, was placed on the injured reserve after tearing his ACL. He has played just 12 games over the last three seasons. It is unlikely Gilbert returns to Arizona. In the 2019 offseason, Korey Cunningham was traded for a 6th rounder so in effect trading Cunningham for Gilbert isn’t a bad move.
10. Arizona acquires ’20 6th round pick FOR Korey Cunningham – August 28, 2019 - New England Patriots
Not a big deal but a descent one by Keim. Korey Cunningham was a 7th round pick in 2018 playing and starting six games for the horrible Arizona o-line. After an injury, he found himself competing for the back-up spot with 2019 7th round pick Joshua Miles. This turned a 7th rounder into a 6th rounder for someone who may have not made the team anyway.
11. Arizona acquires ’18 6th Rd (Chris Campbell) FOR Jared Veldheer – March 23, 2018 - Denver Broncos
This was a cost-saving move by Arizona, saving the team $6.9 million in 2018. This was an inevitability after Andre Smith was signed the week before. Obtaining a 6th rounder for a guy on the last year of his contract is sensible. Christian Campbell (CB) was taken with the 182nd pick in the 2018 draft but was waived before the start of the season.
12. Arizona acquires Javier Arenas FOR Anthony Sherman – May 1, 2013 - Kansas City Chiefs
Anthony Sherman was drafted pre-Arians era and did not fit with how the new coach wanted to run his offense. He was mainly used as a blocker and on special teams. Javier Arenas was a former second-round pick who was a decent role player for KC so a decent return. He would go on to play all 16 games in the 2013 season as a back-up and on special teams. In 2014, he signed for Atlanta.
13. Arizona acquires Matt Barkley FOR ’16 7th Rd – September 4, 2015 - Philadelphia Eagles
Arizona gave a 7th rounder to Philadelphia for Matt Barkley in 2015, only a couple years after he was a 4th round pick. This was a low-risk move in an attempt to find a successor for Carson Palmer. Barkley would never play a snap for Arizona and was released a year later.
14. Arizona acquires ’14 Conditional pick (nothing) FOR Levi Brown – October 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Levi Brown is notorious in Arizona – the guy picked instead of Adrian Peterson. Keim didn’t draft him but he did get rid of him (which many would see as a positive). In the end, due to time on the IR, Arizona received nothing for Brown who a few months later was released by the Steelers and never came back to the NFL.
15. Arizona acquires Bruce Hector FOR Johnathan (Rudy) Ford – August 22, 2019 - Philadelphia Eagles
Nothing move. Rudy Ford was drafted in the 2017 draft in the 6th round spending most of his time on special teams. After new additions, Ford wasn’t likely to make the team. Bruce Hector was expected possibly to act as defensive line depth, but he was cut one week later. Trading Ford saved the team as much as releasing would have.
16. Arizona acquires ’18 7th Rd for Tony Bergstrom - September 1, 2017 - Baltimore Ravens
Signed in the 2017 offseason. Traded before the season for a conditional pick – did not get the pick because he didn’t play enough. Nothing trade.
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