Cardinals GM Keim on Kingsbury-Oklahoma rumors: ‘We don’t want to lose Kliff’

Dec 3, 2021, 3:18 PM | Updated: 4:43 pm
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (left) and general manager Steve Keim (right) address ...
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (left) and general manager Steve Keim (right) address the media before the NFL Draft. (Photo by John Mendoza/Cronkite News)
(Photo by John Mendoza/Cronkite News)

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury did not do the best job to extinguish the possibility — however unlikely — that he could leave Arizona after this season.

Following a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Oklahoma Sooners would target Kingsbury in their head-coaching search, the third-year NFL coach only said he wanted to avoid that topic at the moment.

The man who will have to deal with any of Kingsbury’s potential interest in the Oklahoma job, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, admitted Friday when he joined Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that such things happen when a team deals with success.

“… Sometimes the rumors are correct, sometimes they’re not,” Keim said Friday. “Obviously, we don’t want to lose Kliff, he’s done a phenomenal job. (Owner) Michael (Bidwill) and I are his biggest fans, so again, I think he’s got a great job here as Kyler Murray mentioned. I think the future is bright.”

Kingsbury remains under contract through next year and has a fifth-year team option.

With his only prior head-coaching experience coming at Texas Tech, where he posted a 35-40 record, there might be some inkling of curiosity from Kingsbury in taking a premier college job — and one which also could potentially pay nine figures.

But Kingsbury’s Cardinals have a 9-2 record as they go into a game against the Chicago Bears. Kingsbury has a young quarterback taking all the necessary steps to remain a long-time NFL star and coaching professionals in Arizona might suit Kingsbury over getting back to the deal-with-everything role of being a program leader for college athletes — for a team that will soon be joining the daunting SEC, no less.

More likely than considering the Oklahoma job, Kingsbury very well could use this opportunity, thanks to a reporter’s tweet, to score a new contract and remain with Arizona.

That said, the head coach won’t be the only person Keim might have to worry about losing after the 2021 season ends.

Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is posting another resume-worthy season, and his leadership along with his schematic success makes him a prime head-coaching candidate in the NFL.

Outside linebacker Chandler Jones is also in a contract year and could ask for a big pay-day, as will offensive contributors Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, James Conner, the entire tight end room and cornerback Robert Alford.

“We have so many things going in the right direction, so many decisions need to be made as well after the season, and we’re going to have some tough problems,” Keim said. “We’re actually going to have a lot of tough decisions, which is essentially what you want in my position.”

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