New general manager Steve Keim made it clear when he got his new post that he wanted to continue to work with Jason Licht. So it wasn’t a stretch to think Licht too would end up with a promotion — assuming he didn’t go somewhere else with a bigger title in the meantime, which could have happened after Licht was named a finalist for the Bears’ GM job last year — and that’s exactly what happened.
Licht was bumped up to vice president of player personnel Tuesday, the job title previously held by Keim. Not only will Licht have a greater say in personnel decisions, but he will also take part in contract negotiations — more groundwork for Licht too to eventually get his own general manager spot.
Licht and Keim work well together and Licht has already put together his own long impressive resume, working in the front office of the Eagles and Patriots. Now he and Keim must find a way to upgrade the Cardinals’ roster. I’d expect someone to eventually get Licht’s old job, so you’d figure the Cards will add at least one more body in the front office, somewhere.
Tags: Jason Licht, Steve Keim
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Before the end of the regular season, it wasn’t just Steve Keim in the Cardinals’ personnel department that found his way into the rumormill of potential general manager hires around the league. It was also Jason Licht (pronounced “light”, so you see what I did in the headline there). Licht is the Cardinals’ director of player personnel. It was Licht, after all, who was a finalist for the Bears’ general manager job last year (it went to Phil Emery) before returning to the Cards’ front office after three seasons in New England.
Licht worked in Philadephia before the Cardinals hired him for the 2008 season, and after he made an impact and took the Super Bowl ride with the organization, he got the job with the Patriots. Keim loved the chemistry he had working with Licht that one season, however, and worked to find a way to get Licht back in Arizona. The way the jobs are filling up, it doesn’t look — despite that end-of-the-season conjecture — that Licht (below, left, with Keim) will be getting a general manager promotion anywhere. That means he will continue to work with the Cards’ new GM, Keim (perhaps, and this is conjecture too, with a promotion of his own) and that makes the Cards’ new boss very happy.
“I think if we have our say so he will be here,” Keim said. “Jason is a huge asset for us. Obviously we all know that he was the runner-up for the Bears GM job last year. I see him as a GM in his own right. I lean on Jason daily on a lot of different things. He is a talented, talented evaluator. He has got strong opinions.
“Sometimes he and I get in his office, we look at our roster, we look at our board and we don’t quite get into a full MMA match, but we have some disagreements. But I think that is a good thing, he is not afraid to tell me his opinion and I am not afraid to tell him mine. I think it is good to have some variances in grades and, like I said, at the end of the day when you have variances of opinion, it helps shake things out in the end and it is productive.”
Jason isn’t a small man, but I don’t know if I’d want to get into an MMA match with Keim. That said, it’s a good relationship that should benefit the Cardinals as they embark in this new version of the front office.
Tags: Bears, Jason Licht, Steve Keim
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When Steve Keim was 9 years old, he was already fascinated by watching games and figuring out which players were better — so much so that he told his mom he wanted to be an NFL general manager one day. She “sort of snickered,” Keim said Tuesday — the day he was named the Cardinals’ general manager.
“If you only worked on your math and science as hard as you did knowing these players, you may end up being successful,” his mother told him.
“I heeded my mother’s advice,” Keim said.
Now, I can’t speak to Keim’s ability in either, but the math would have come in handy all those years on the road as a scout (lot of expense reports to tally as well as numbers to crunch on potential draftees). As for science, well, there’s always a thought that finding and developing a quarterback is a science. Wait, that’s as much art as science, right? And some luck.
Anyway, many are asking what exactly has changed with Keim at the helm, since he was already here and already had a hand in decisions that were being made. Obviously there is a belief by Michael Bidwill that Keim can get the job done. And before, there were two people above Keim swaying choices — Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves. Like anyone, the freedom given once someone ascends to the top job can change — at least somewhat — how he makes a choice. I’m not saying it will change Keim, and I don’t know exactly how much power he had before. Bidwill made it clear Keim and the head coach will “have a collaborative relationship.” With a strong GM and a strong coach, “what they tend to do is they improve each other.”
— When it came to the draft, Keim was the one absorbing all the input from the scouts and coaches to give a player a final grade. But the decisions on who to pick was a group effort. Bidwill said that will stay the same. It doesn’t look like director of player personnel Jason Licht is going anywhere else. I’d expect him to remain Keim’s right-hand man, perhaps with a promotion at some point. I do expect the Cards to consider adding more bodies to the player personnel department too.
– It was interesting to hear that Keim believes in the Ron Wolf line of thinking in terms of gathering QBs. Once upon a time, Wolf, with the Packers, had Brett Favre and still collected Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Ty Detmer. All were used as backups and/or trade bait. The Cards will take one solid prospect right now, but maybe they can get there, QB-wise.
– I do expect, with a new GM and new O-line coach — no matter who it is — to have a new approach to building that group, although Keim did say he thought some pieces were in place.
Tags: Jason Licht, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals have made some scouting department changes, adding a extra body to their previous group by hiring Zac Canty — who most recently spent the last two seasons as a pro personnel assistant with the Bears — as the team representative for the National Football Scouting Service, and also bringing in former Dolphins scouting assistant John Richter to scout the northeast region of the country.
The team parted ways with scout Don Corzine.
The team reassigned some current scouts, putting Mike Boni on the near East, Kyle Johnson in the Midwest and Luke Palko in the Southeast. Malik Boyd remains a cross checker for the western half of the country, Chris Culmer remains in the West and Dru Grigson as a cross checker for the eastern half of the country.
Also officially announced was the addition of former running back Josh Scobey as a scouting assistant, although Scobey has been on board for a while now.
The personnel department also saw the return of Jason Licht recently as director of player personnel.
Tags: Chris Culmer, Dru Grigson, Jason Licht, John Richter, Josh Scobey, Luke Palko, Malik Boyd, Mike Boni, scouts, Zac Canty
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With everything going on today with the death of former NFL star Junior Seau, talking about football-related matters seems trivial (especially when I saw the story about a shooting tragedy locally here near where I used to live.) Indeed, before the Seau news broke, even the Saints bounty player suspension news wasn’t exactly uplifting. Interesting in that case that the league said part of the evidence against linebacker Jonathan Vilma was that he offered a $10,000 bounty to knock Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner out of their playoff game in January of 2010. Not that we have to rehash all of that again.
– Great and heartfelt anecdote from Saints offensive lineman Eric Olsen about going up against Seau at a football camp when Olsen was a kid. A must-read.
– It was painful to see Seau’s mother trying to deal with this. If you ever think it might be time to give up, always remember there are people close to you that don’t want you to give up.
– I thought Chargers.com did a great job handling the situation.
– Congrats to Steve Keim for his front-office promotion. I’d guess this would help in the future when teams sniff around him for GM work (although it won’t stop it). And it’s a big deal getting Jason Licht back. They liked his work during his first tenure. It never hurts to have someone coming in who already knows how everything operates.
– For those wondering, the Cards had about $2.5 million of salary cap space as of Monday. With the news they have about $4.5 million to use in the rookie pool, they
will still need to find more room they should be OK for now. (As Adamjt13 points out in the comments, the Cards actually should already have enough room with the offseason top 51 rule. My bad. He explains it well here, even if I may have been the media guy getting it wrong he was forced to update the article.)
– Finally, this is a great story written by former NFL defensive lineman Trevor Pryce. The next time you wonder why a player wants to “hang on” — or even why they’d subject themselves to an often brutal lifestyle, this is the answer.
Tags: Jason Licht, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner, Saints, Steve Keim
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In the NFL, the week or so after the draft is the time when personnel changes happen. The rules are such that personnel men can’t move from team to team as the draft approaches for obvious reasons. But new jobs are offered and teams make moves with scouts and the like right after, in that month or so when the scouting finally gets a break before gearing up for another marathon of work before the next draft.
So today comes a couple of reports concerning the Cardinals. A report first came out of New England, where Shalise Manza Young tweeted Patriots director of pro personnel Jason Licht was leaving the Patriots to take an unknown role with the Cards. Then Adam Caplan tweeted out Cardinals director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight was leaving to take a job with the Colts (which I have since confirmed.) The Cardinals have not announced anything officially.
If Licht sounds familiar, it’s because he worked for the Cardinals in 2008, hired away from the Eagles and was with the Cards for the Super Bowl year. He left after the Super Bowl to take the Patriots job, and McCreight was the one hired to replace him.
(Here’s a story I wrote about McCreight and fellow pro personnel guy Quentin Harris, for those wondering about what the job entails.)
UPDATE: It was all true and now official: Licht has returned to Arizona. McCreight, as I noted earlier is working for Indy. And on top of everything, Steve Keim — who was in the mix to be the Rams’ GM earlier this offseason, has been promoted to VP of player personnel. Read all about it here.
Tags: draft, front office, Jason Licht, Steve Keim, T.J. McCreight
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