Execs to ESPN: Cardinals’ head-coach opening ranks 2nd-to-last in NFL

Jan 2, 2019, 2:08 PM | Updated: 6:05 pm

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Cardinals president Michael Bidwill wants to keep the team’s head coaching search close to the vest.

That, he said, is because Arizona is fully aware of the competition in the market. Eight teams total are currently looking for a new leader, and that could make the ability to land the best candidate a tough one for the Cardinals.

Simply put, Arizona’s situation isn’t the most appealing compared to the other teams, even though it already has a high-upside quarterback, a Pro Bowl-caliber running back and several playmakers on defense in the stable.

ESPN’s Mike Sando asked two NFL executives, a personnel director and a coach to rank the eight openings. And the Cardinals didn’t fare well in the exercise, coming in seventh.

The coach who spoke to Sando anonymously said he bumped up Arizona because of quarterback Josh Rosen, who will enter his second season with not quite a full year of experience and a lot of question-marks considering how he did with little talent or protection around him in 2018.

Running back David Johnson, defensive end Chandler Jones and cornerback Patrick Peterson apparently aren’t enticing-enough pieces for a head coaching candidate to like the Cardinals’ situation in 2019 and beyond. Neither is Arizona’s first overall pick it holds for the upcoming draft.

General manager Steve Keim’s status could be a concern for a few reasons. Either head coaching candidates will want to have personnel control over him or don’t believe his job is safe beyond 2018 — even though Bidwill expressed confidence in Keim this week after the firing of head coach Steve Wilks.

It’s because of Keim that NFL insiders aren’t buying the talent on the Cardinals’ roster.

“Arizona is a long way away on both sides of the ball, and they don’t seem to have any way to get there soon,” the coach told Sando. “There is no help for the poor quarterback. As soon as that receiver [Larry Fitzgerald] leaves, that whole thing gets worse. Then you have to beat San Francisco, Seattle and L.A. in that division, who are all better. They could be down for years.”

As it looks at the beginning of the calendar year, the Cardinals could have cap space approaching $70 million this offseason. They could add talent there and in the draft if Keim does as well as he did in 2018, when nearly his entire draft class contributed relatively positive snaps throughout a 3-13 season.

Still, only the Cincinnati Bengals finished below the Cardinals in the NFL insiders’ combined ranking of the open head coaching gigs.

The Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns tied for first. They were followed, in order of best to worst, by the New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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