Not many years ago, the Cardinals had one of the NFL's smallest personnel staffs. Very few people did a tremendous amount of work, and while they gave great effort, the lack of resources ultimately showed on the field.
That gradually changed, and moves made this week give the team perhaps the best personnel department it's had in years.
Steve Keim, the director of player personnel, was promoted to vice president of player personnel. He still operates under the supervision of general manager Rod Graves.
Jason Licht, who spent the last three years with the Patriots, was hired to fill Keim's old job. Licht's hiring is significant because he was with the team in 2008 as a pro personnel assistant. That was the team's Super Bowl season. Licht wasn't the reason the club went to the Super Bowl, but his expertise helped in filling out the roster with important role players.
He wasn't under contract with the Cardinals after that, so he left for the Patriots, where he was the pro personnel director.
Both Keim and Licht are highly thought of in league circles. Keim interviewed for the Rams' general manager position this offseason, and Licht was a finalist for the Bears' general manager position.
"I'm proud of the work our scouts, coaches and personnel staff have done up to this point, and I'm also very excited about these two moves," Graves said. "Steve and Jason are exceptional NFL personnel evaluators with proven track records and their expertise makes us a better organization."
There should be a good working relationship between coaches and the front office. Keim is entering his 14th season with the team. Graves has been there throughout that time, and coach Ken Whisenhunt is entering his sixth season.
The Cardinals front office now has a clear delineation of duties. Assistant Justin Casey handles cap management and participates in contract negotiations.
Quentin Harris, a former player for the Cardinals and Giants, will assist Licht. Josh Scobey, another former player, also works in scouting.
Licht brings valuable experience from successful organizations, including the Patriots. Before coming to the Cardinals in 2008, he spent five years as the Eagles' vice president of player personnel.
Like Keim, Licht has a solid relationship with Whisenhunt and his staff, and has a good idea of the types of players the Cardinals will be looking for.
How long the Cardinals can keep this front office together might be in question, given that Licht and Keim interviewed for other jobs last offseason.
But that's a good concern to have. If a team hires good people, other teams are going to notice. For most of its tenure in Arizona, the Cardinals' pro scouting department was run on a shoestring, and the results have had an impact on games.
There wasn't a clear understanding between coaches and the department about the types of players wanted. And management didn't always want to move quickly when players became available on the market.
The Cardinals were on their way to building a solid front office even before the two moves this week. T.J. McCreight headed the team's pro personnel department for the past few years and did a good job.
He accepted a job with the Colts, a move that helped create the current openings.
Cards scouting staff continues to be better
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