Keim still in play for St. Louis

Posted by Darren Urban on January 25, 2012 – 10:49 am

It’s been under the radar, but the news that Cardinals director of player personnel Steve Keim is supposed to interview for the Rams’ vacant general manager job Saturday means the Cards could still be heavily impacted with all these league moves going on beyond their own search for a quarterbacks coach. When Jeff Fisher was hired as head coach, conventional wisdom said his former cohort in Tennessee, Lake Dawson, had an upper hand. But as Jim Thomas, esteemed Rams beat writer, notes, Dawson just was promoted by the Titans since his St. Louis interview and that usually doesn’t happen for a guy who is about to leave.

The Rams also interviewed Ryan Grigson — brother of Cards’ scout Dru — for the job, but then Ryan Grigson was hired as Indy’s GM. Les Snead, who works for Atlanta, was also previously interviewed, and the Rams’ original list of candidates is shrinking. Recently, though, the Rams said they will look at candidates they hadn’t already asked to talk to, so that could change the Keim dynamic.

Regardless, Keim (below center, talking to long snapper Mike Leach and football administrator Justin Casey) plays a huge role in the Cards come draft time and it would affect the organization if he were to leave.

UPDATE: As “D” in the comments points out, league rules prohibit those working in personnel to be able to move between teams until after the draft. Turns out that there are rules in place for personnel men, but not for those being promoted to general manager. Keim could leave right away.

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An “incredible” and “fluid” week for the front office

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2011 – 10:16 am

General manager Rod Graves is hoping to make it up to Flagstaff today or tomorrow, after the whirlwind week that was. Now, there is the ability to step back a little bit and absorb what happened since a week ago today when the free agent process officially began.

Graves praised the support the front office had from president Michael Bidwill, noted the hard work put in by assistant Justin Casey, the scouting department led by director of player personnel Steve Keim and the pro personnel department fronted by director T.J. McCreight.

“We had the support to be aggressive and we all played a part,” Graves said. “We were organized from day one and we expanded the negotiating team. … But we had to be fluid every step of the way. We determined early we weren’t going to get caught up on one guy. We couldn’t afford to wait around.”

Said coach Ken Whisenhunt, “We had every position evaluated. We had players ranked. We knew where we wanted to go. If we weren’t going to be able to get in play for one guy, we’d move to the next guy.”

A good example of the smart work the group put in came at the guard position. The Cards wanted Deuce Lutui back, but when it looked like Lutui was going in a different direction, the team turned to Daryn Colledge, who it eventually signed.

No bridges were burned, however, even after Lutui agreed to sign with the Bengals. So when Lutui flunked his Cincinnati physical, the Cards and Lutui figured out a deal.

“The way that negotiation was handled allowed him to come back,” Graves said.

Whisenhunt said the group had a laundry list of ways to attack the past week. But as Graves said, the Cards were fluid, adding, for instance, a drive for a cornerback once it became clear the team was going to have to include Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the Kevin Kolb trade. Yet the Cards had done their due diligence on cornerbacks already, making the eventual signing of Richard Marshall that much easier (and there were reports the Cards were farther reaching that normal, for instance talking with arguably the top free agent available, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha).

“There’s always got to be a little bit of adjustment you have to make to navigate your way through that, and once again, it was a great team effort,” Whisenhunt said. “To be honest with you, it all starts with Michael. Michael set the mentality of going into this period to be aggressive. He’d said that. He’d said that publicly, and he stood true to that.”

Said Graves, “The whole process has been incredible.”

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Growing the negotiating team

Posted by Darren Urban on July 20, 2011 – 9:53 am

Whenever this lockout wraps up, there will be a lot of work to do in a short amount of time before training camp. There will be so many players/agents to contact/negotiate with — from drafted rookies to undrafted rookies to the Cards’ own free agents to universal free agents — that it was going to be difficult if not impossible for general manager Rod Graves and salary cap administrator Justin Casey to get everything done.

But I had a chance to speak to Graves this morning and given the circumstances, the Cardinals will be expanding the negotiating team. Director of player personnel Steve Keim, director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight, assistant director of pro personnel Quentin Harris and director of football administration Reggie Terry will be joining Graves  and Casey in the work. Obviously the more complicated contracts will be left to Graves and Casey, but the expansion will allow the Cards a chance to function in what is certain to be warp-speed work.

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Soon, the fast and furious

Posted by Darren Urban on July 11, 2011 – 12:51 pm

So, whenever this is over — and again, it seems closer to that than it has been, right? — to say the NFL and those of us in it will be on a fast track is possibly a monumental understatement. There are stories about potential timelines, etc., etc., but what actually happens, both with a timeline and the actual rules in place, is very much still up in the air. Regardless, as we get to the middle of July, there are hundreds of contracts to work out, for both existing players with expiring deals and undrafted rookies and the drafted rookies (That first month or so is gonna be a grind-and-a-half for Rod Graves and Justin Casey).

The Cards, like every team, have prepped for free agency long ago. They have worked out potential FA targets regarding whatever the FA rules will be. They also know which players they want to push to bring back too (no, I do not have access to that list). It’s going to be even more work than normal too, since many reports say the teams will have 90 on the roster instead of 80 for camp, a little more leeway for injuries and such in this uncertain season. You have to figure resolving the QB situation will be at the top of the to-do list, but then which way does it go? Are the Cards able to keep guys like Sendlein, Breaston and Lutui? How many undrafted free agents are going to be targeted? More important, which veteran free agents will the team chase? And where does Larry Fitzgerald’s extension fit in?

Certainly, there will be daily news flowing quickly, so there will be plenty of which to write. Now it’s about waiting to see exactly what the headlines will be, and how fast they get pushed aside for the newest development.

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