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Arizona Cardinals potential head coach opening among worst per ESPN

Syndication: Arizona Republic Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Well, we didn’t need to wait until Sunday evening or Monday morning to get the list of best to worst coaching vacancies in the NFL heading into the 2023 offseason.

In fact, Bill Barnwell of ESPN+ wrote about each head coaching opening, the pros and cons and the Arizona Cardinals are not the worst situation, but they are among the worst.

From ESPN:

5. Arizona Cardinals

Pros: Quarterback, cap space, potential for football czar role
Cons: Lack of talent on roster, division, injury woes

Kyler Murray, the ability to rebuild the entire roster and be the man would be what the Cardinals can offer. The rest of the roster is a complete and utter disaster though as Barnwell spells out:

Keim’s drafting has left much to be desired over the past half-decade, missing on picks and using selections on players who don’t play premium positions. There might not be a single player who projects to be an above-average starter from Arizona’s past three drafts. The only player on the roster left from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 drafts is safety Budda Baker.

Budda Baker and Kyler Murray... While both great players, that doesn’t exactly make a coach want to come running and the fact that the league perception on the rest of the roster is the 2020-2022 draft picks are not even above average while the pre-Murray drafts are Baker and you and me.

It is because Keim’s “team building” has been a joke:

Keim’s philosophy of spending money and valuable draft picks on the league’s least important positions while trying to plug holes with veteran trades and free agency has left them too far away from contending. Arizona already is starting behind the eight ball because of Murray’s injury. Taking a season to clean out the cap while building up their infrastructure on either side of the line of scrimmage would be a thoughtful way to approach their long-term future, even if things get worse in the short term.

We have gone over it before, but the Cardinals have drafted one CB in the top 75 since Patrick Peterson in 2011. Meanwhile they have drafted five inside linebackers since Keim took over at GM in the top 50 and still desperately need help at inside linebacker. They have drafted one edge rusher in the top 75 in Keim’s tenure, and two offensive linemen in the top 75 since Jonathan Cooper was their initial draft pick in 2013.

Think about it, they have drafted more quarterbacks in the top 10 than they have corners and edges combined in the top 50 in the Keim era.

Barnwell’s closer is what makes this tough, because people don’t forget:

If Murray is expected to miss significant time, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which the Cardinals remain competitive. The Rams will be healthier, if only by sheer chance. The 49ers have been one of the league’s best teams despite losing their starting quarterback to a season-ending injury in Week 2. The Seahawks are about to add a top-five pick to their roster and just had a great draft. That 7-0 start from 2021 feels like it might as well have been a decade ago. Murray alone makes this job intriguing, but there’s a lot to worry about here.

You give a Sean Payton complete control and tell him he has three years to get back into shape, then it works, but if you are going to continue to expect to compete immediately, may as well eat another year of Kliff Kingsbury because this roster is devoid of talent and the one chip you have may not be available until October.

Here is how Barnwell ranked the potential seven openings and why:

1. Carolina Panthers
Pros: Young talent, division
Cons: Missing a viable quarterback

2. New Orleans Saints
Pros: Division, young building blocks
Cons: Locked into declining core by cap mismanagement, missing draft capital

3. Houston Texans
Pros: Draft capital
Cons: Lack of young talent, erratic ownership

4. Washington Commanders
Pros: Young talent, ownership uncertainty
Cons: Quarterback, division, ownership uncertainty

5. Arizona Cardinals
Pros: Quarterback, cap space, potential for football czar role
Cons: Lack of talent on roster, division, injury woes

6. Denver Broncos
Pros: Young talent, possible solution at quarterback
Cons: Draft capital, division, quarterback on very expensive contract might be ... broken?

7. Indianapolis Colts
Pros: Core of young talent (pre-2022), high draft pick
Cons: Ownership interference, missing quarterback, core of young talent (now)