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For the Win: Steve Keim the No. 6 GM in the NFL

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Heading into the 2017 season, just two players remain from the 2012 Arizona Cardinals, who won five games, leading to the dismissals of head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves.

The reshaping of the roster was a task left to Steve Keim, who was hired to replace Graves on Jan. 8, 2013 after spending 14 seasons working within the team’s personnel department.

His first order of business was tabbing Bruce Arians as head coach, and from there it was about not only acquiring talent, but the right talent.

Not every move he has made worked out, but a majority have. And because of it, the Cardinals have not only been one of the NFL’s better teams since 2013, but Keim has earned himself plenty of recognition.

The Sporting News’ 2014 NFL Executive of the Year who also earned the same honor from Pro Football Talk in 2013 and 2014 is widely praised as being one of the league’s better GMs, and on Thursday, For The Win’s Steven Ruiz ranked him sixth overall.

Arizona is coming off its first losing season under Keim’s watch, but we won’t hold that against him. Injuries ravaged the Cardinals roster in 2016. That they were able to finish one game under .500 is a testament to the job Keim has done in Arizona. His talent evaluation skills will be tested this year after the Cardinals lost several key pieces in free agency.

In four seasons under Keim (and Arians), the Cardinals have compiled a 41-22-1 record, making the playoffs twice and reaching the NFC Championship Game once. They took a step back in 2016, when preseason Super Bowl expectations paved the way to a 7-8-1 record and, as noted, this offseason saw some key players defect to other teams.

Whether or not Keim has done enough to reshape the roster and get it back to the postseason is anyone’s guess, but there appears to be no shortage of confidence in his ability to navigate the team through some treacherous waters.

It’s worth noting that the GMs ranked ahead of Keim — the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones, the Broncos’ John Elway, the Packers’ Ted Thompson, the Seahawks’ John Schneider and the Patriots’ Bill Belichick — have all built Super Bowl-winning teams.

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