Cardinals scouting staff continues to be better
The Sports Xchange
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
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
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
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.
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