When something is working well, simply keep it going.
It’s a strategy that Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has seemingly stuck with since taking over the reins in 2013.
That strategy is sign veteran players coming off poor seasons or injury-riddled ones to one-year deals.
The hope is that the player will be motivated to get back on the field or have a chip on their shoulder to prove he can still play at a high caliber, while the Cardinals get the benefit of signing them on a team-valued deal.
Keim’s magic touch has helped stock the roster with depth year after year, while also being proactive in plugging holes and leaks that may pop up during the season.
In 2013, Keim’s first at the helm, he signed fifth-year running back Rashard Mendenhall, eighth-year offensive lineman Eric Winston and 10th-year veterans Karlos Dansby and Yeremiah Bell to one-year team-friendly deals.
All four signings proved to be gold, with the group combining to start 63 of a 64 games. Dansby was an integral part of that defense, recording a career-best 114 individual tackles and turned in his comeback season into a lucrative contract with the Cleveland Browns.
Bell and Mendenhall both retired after the 2013 season, but not before pacing their respective positions, while Winson started all 16 games at right tackle.
Keim’s next coup of one-year guys was just as successful the next year, with a haul featuring ninth-year cornerback Antonio Cromartie, 11th-year defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and 13th-year linebacker Larry Foote.
Cromartie started all 16 games at corner opposite Patrick Peterson, helping the pass defense limit teams to just 18.7 points per game last year, good for 5th-lowest in the NFL.
Foote started 15 games and recorded 84 combined tackles, while also being a leader on the defense. He is now retired and coaching the Cardinals inside linebackers.
That has led us to the third year of the Keim reign, and he continues to show that magic touch when it comes to those sneaky one-year signings with loads of potential.
The list this year is as long as ever and includes, sixth-year linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, sixth-year tight end Jermaine Gresham, eighth-year running back Chris Johnson, ninth-year linebacker LaMarr Woodley, ninth-year center Lyle Sendelien and 12th-year defensive tackle Cory Redding.
Obviously, it is way too early to evaluate the 2015 veteran class of one-year signings for Keim.
Weatherspoon and Johnson have barely been on the field as both are out with injuries, while the rest are all listed as back-ups on the team’s depth chart.
Even if none of those guys crack the first-team line-up, the depth they provide gives the Cardinals one of the deepest teams in the NFL.
Keim quickly has solidified himself as one of the brightest minds in the league, and with a strategy that has yet to fail him, the Cardinals are a hot destination for veteran players looking to not only revive their careers, but also be on a Super Bowl contending team.
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