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Keim’s Kool $11.2M

NFL: Arizona Cardinals Red & White Practice Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In my opinion, Steve Keim deserves a good deal of credit for:

  1. Attempting to re-define the team’s veteran leadership with the acquisitions of DE J.J. Watt, C Rodney Hudson and K Matt Prater —- bell cows for each of the team’s three phases.
  2. Restructuring LG Justin Pugh’s and ILB Jordan Hicks’ contracts, while retaining key veteran starters such as RT Kelvin Beachum, DT Corey Peters, OLB Markus Golden and CB Robert Alford at cap friendly salaries.
  3. Retaining OLB Dennis Gardeck on a $3.4M 2nd round tender.
  4. Waiting to see this season whether OLB/DE Chandler Jones can return to Pro Bowl status before offering him a second lucrative contract.
  5. Revising the team’s draft methods in order to select ILB Zaven Collins, WR Rondale Moore, CB Marco Wilson (via trade), OLB/DE Victor Dimukeje, CB Tay Gowan and S James Wiggins.
  6. This:

7. Having the fortitude to commit to playing rookies right from the get-go this year.

Now —- to what many fans and players have been wondering for a couple of months:

Hey Steve, what are you planning to do with the kool $11.2M cap space that you’ve adroitly managed to stash?

On yesterday’s Red Rain podcast, Joseph Comeau (The Cardinal Rule on YouTube, which by the way just got monetized, congrats Joseph!) and I pondered the question of the kool $11.2M, to which AZ_Cardinals_Fan commented:

17 hours ago

An hour and 8 minutes in, you are asking about the 11.2 million the Cardinals still have available. I think they are trying to hold back some in case they need to sign some free agents this year.

I also think they are willing to roll some of the money over to next year’s cap because it’s gonna get dicey. Like you alluded to with the Phillips contract, let’s not spend money just to spend it. Let’s say Chandler plays well this year, the 11 million would help to get him re-signed next year. So some of that thought process might be looking into the future thinking anyone they could sign this year with that money wouldn’t be worth losing the opportunity to sign someone next year.

Per usual, AZ_C_F makes excellent points.

A month ago some of us here at ROTB were imploring Steve Keim to use a portion of the $11.2M to sign CB Steve Nelson. Alas, Nelson signed with the Eagles for a mere $3.01M, with $2.5M guaranteed.

Recently some of us here were imploring Keim to trade for TE Chris Herndon of the Jets, who has two years remaining on his 4th round contract at $750K this year and $920K next year. Alas, the Vikings, who lost young stud TE Irv Smith to a season-ending torn meniscus, acquired Herndon for a mere 6th round pick.

Some will argue that it’s too late now and, as AZ_C_F said, perhaps it is best for Steve Keim to hold on to the kool $11.2M in order to add it to the team’s 2022 cap.

The fact is —- in the NFL —- it is never too late to wheel and deal.

Here is a hypothetical move that Steve Keim could make —- particularly if Keim gets the thumb’s up from J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins —- he could offer the Houston Texans a draft pick for CB Bradley Roby. This move is what one could call “slight risk, but potentially high reward.”

Roby, who is one of the top cover CBs in the NFL, has one game remaining on his six game PED violation suspension.

Sure, some of you might think in light of Pat P. this is “deja vu all over again” —- but in Roby’s two years with the Texans he has played at a high level.

  • 2019 PFF Overall Grade: 66.8 —- 2019 Coverage Grade: 69.8
  • 2020 PFF Overall Grade: 71.5 —- 2020 Coverage Grade: 72.2

The Cardinals would have to pay Roby $8.25M this year, plus could retain him for $9.5M in 2022.

Let’s not forget that Roby was a key player in Vance Joseph’s defense in Denver. In Vance’s first year as head coach, Roby had his best year: 78.5 overall, 77.5 coverage. In Vance’s second year, Roby struggled —- 59.9 overall and 58.5 coverage.

After Roby’s excellent 2017 season, Vance Joseph said:

“He’s a young corner that’s played a lot of football here. When I watch him play at a high level, I’m not surprised by that. That’s what he should do. He’s a first-round pick. He’s played a bunch of ball. He should get better and better each year and become a one or two for us in the future.” — Head Coach Vance Joseph on Bradley Roby at the end of the 2017 season

Roby’s two seasons in Houston have been very good, save for the suspension which cost him 5 games in 2020 and another game this season.

Coverage: (Targets/Catches, Comp. %, Yds., TDs, Ints. PBUs)

  • DEN 2017: 78/41, 52.6%, 511 yds., 5 Tds, 1 int., 15 pbus
  • DEN 2018: 83/54, 65.1%, 807 yds., 6 Tds, 1 int., 9 plus
  • HOU 2019: 60/37, 55.1%, 465 yds., 1 Td, 2 ints., 5 pbus
  • HOU 2020: 37/23, 62.2%, 229 yds., 3 ads., 1 int. 5 pbus (11 games)

The key is —- J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins know Bradley Roby and if they believe he could make a big difference at CB for the Cardinals this year and next, then Steve Keim may have saved the kool $11.2M for a very kool reason.

The Bradley Roby hypothetical is just one trade scenario. There could be a few others.

But, if Keim sits the whole time on thel $11.2M, how fair would that be to the 2021 team? How fair would it be especially to Kliff Kingsbury whom so many insist is in the “playoffs or bust” mode?

When the team knows the GM is doing everything he can to help the team win, it’s a great morale booster.