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Cardinals GM Keim: Balancing short-term vs. long-term is ‘double-edged sword’

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, right, celebrates with wide receiver John Brown after scoring during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

While we do not yet know the exact dollar amount of the 2017 NFL salary cap, one thing that is certain is it will rise from the $155,270,000 it was in 2016.

For the Cardinals, that’s probably a good thing.

According to Spotrac.com, the Cardinals already have $136,936,103 committed to contracts for next season, which gives them nearly $35.5 million of space. The latter number places them 17th in the NFL and third in the NFC West, with the 49ers ($81.89 million) and Rams ($38.99 million) having more to spend and the Seahawks ($26.62 million) boasting less.

Trying to predict what the Cardinals will do with their cap space, aside from keeping their own free agents, is likely an effort in futility. But when it comes to trying to upgrade a roster that finished last season 7-8-1 but still has aging veteran stars in QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald, surely GM Steve Keim, head coach Bruce Arians and their crew will look to add some fresh faces to the mix.

The tricky part is the balancing act he must do with regards to trying to win now while not mortgaging the future.

“It’s a tough double-edged sword, really, for me,” Keim told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday as part of Newsmakers Week. “Because there are guys like Carson and Larry that you know that the end is sooner than later, so you have to try to build around them and try to, so to speak, go for it now.

“But that’s our mindset every year; we’re never going to feel like we’re in a rebuilding phase.”

Keim said he feels like the organization owes its fans that much, being aggressive in free agency in the draft in an effort to win.

“But you also have to keep in mind that you’re going to do the right thing for the organization long-term,” he said. “That’s the biggest challenge, is to make sure that I can look in the mirror and realize that whether it’s the way we structure contracts, whether it’s the way we draft, or whether it’s the way we sign free agents, that this is the best thing for the organization not just for now, but for the next three or four years.”

We’ve already taken a look at their list of more than 20-plus free agents, and in the coming weeks we’ll likely get a bit more clarity regarding what the Cardinals plan on doing with each of them. On Friday, Keim would not commit to the team making a big splash in free agency, though he did say they will be aggressive throughout the process.

Based on their current cap situation, they will have some room to work with. But how steadfast Keim will be in putting focus and resources into the 2017 season, which many see as the last in the team’s current window, is up in the air, mostly because Keim does not see it as a one-year deal.

“Because you never know what’s going to happen,” he said.

Keim compared it to the idea of a team drafting for need when what a team needs in April may be different than what it requires during the season.

“If you look at Larry and Carson’s situation, if you’re basically saying that’s really all we have or those are the two primary players that we’re going to build around, what would happen if Carson Palmer went down in training camp and missed the season or Larry Fitzgerald went down and missed the season?” he said. “The way we build this roster is you have to look at our depth chart and you have to think to yourself when you’re building the 53 man, that any of these players could go down, or a number of them could go down, and how can we function if they do?

“That’s the biggest challenge because depth is so imperative in this league.”

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