RT Kelvin Beachum picked family, trust of Sean Kugler in Cardinals return
A pandemic-affected free agency last offseason lingered into July for offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum.
At that point, with the market in a sludge, he picked the Arizona Cardinals because he trusted offensive line coach Sean Kugler. Beachum also knew, at minimum, there could be reps behind starters D.J. Humphries and Marcus Gilbert.
Only weeks later, Gilbert opted out of the season due to health concerns.
Beachum had his chance to start and made the most of it on a veteran’s minimum deal. He was second on the team, behind Humphries, by playing 1,128 snaps in 16 starts and was so good the Cardinals this week felt it necessary to bring him back on a two-year deal worth north of $4 million.
“This was the probably the first offseason that I literally did not care what happened,” Beachum said Wednesday, laughing. “I really focused on my family even more than usual, was even more intentional about just not worrying about (free agency).”
A post to Twitter on Tuesday, hours before news broke of the tackle’s agreement with Arizona, showed that relaxed spirit.
Beachum agreed to the deal before the NFL free agency period opened in full on Wednesday.
Having three younger children entering the public school system, he said, played a role in his wife and him wanting to settle in the desert for the next two years.
But on the football side of things, there were reasons, too.
Beachum not only found success last year and can retain his role at right tackle for 2021, but he returns still with immense trust in offensive line coach and promoted run game coordinator Kugler.
It was Kugler who as an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers pushed for the team to select Beachum with a seventh-round pick in 2012.
“I would say it is probably the single most important factor in why I signed the deal last year and why I’m here today, honestly,” the tackle said. “We’ve had a great rapport and a great relationship over the years.
“I probably wouldn’t play right tackle for another coach, just being honest with you. I have what I consider a very deep appreciation — very, very deep appreciation for Sean, his family and everything that he stands for.”
Beachum said a couple of teams from the East Coast showed interest in him as a free agent. All of them had past connections to him.
Ultimately, the relationship with Kugler and the offer on the table to keep his family in Arizona made it a stress-free decision.
Beachum last year ranked fourth among all offensive linemen in total points earned (TPE), per Sports Info Solutions.
According to Pro Football Focus, Beachum allowed three sacks and 25 total pressures in all those snaps played, ranking above-average with a 76.8 pass-blocking grade.
And as the 31-year-old likes to say, the NFL at the end of the day is about playing well. That he did.
“When I signed last year, I was signing a deal where I knew I was going to be coming in and competing for a job and possibly swinging with Marcus and Hump,” Beachum said of his past year with the Cardinals. “But when you have some things that happen (like Gilbert’s opt-out), knew I had the opportunity to slide in at right tackle and get on the field, and as the season progressed, just try to do everything I could to make a statement.
“At the end of the day, performed as best as I could and let the chips fall where they fall.”