Arizona Cardinals extend GM Steve Keim, head coach Kliff Kingsbury

Mar 2, 2022, 9:17 AM | Updated: 9:57 am
Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury shakes hands with general manager Steve Keim (R) a...
Arizona Cardinals new head coach Kliff Kingsbury shakes hands with general manager Steve Keim (R) after being introduced to the media at the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on January 9, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have extended both general manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the team announced Wednesday.

While the dollar amount of the extensions is not known, the pair is now signed through 2027.

Keim’s original contract ran through 2022, while Kingsbury was entering the final season of his four-year deal that also carried a fifth-year team option in 2023.

“The leadership of both Steve and Kliff have been key factors in the team’s turnaround over the last three seasons,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a press release.

“We are all looking forward to continuing that progress and recognize these two individuals will be a big part of achieving our long-term goals as an organization.”

The news of the extensions come days after quarterback Kyler Murray’s agent, Erik Burkhardt, issued a statement putting onus on the team to get a deal done with the signal caller. Murray and Kingsbury share the same agent. Keim drafted Murray and hired Kingsbury in 2019.

Keim worked his way up to the team’s head executive position in 2013 after beginning his tenure with the franchise in 1999 as a scout. He became director of college scouting in 2006, director of player personnel in 2008 and VP of player personnel in 2012 before his promotion to GM.

Upon taking the general manager job in 2013, he hired head coach Bruce Arians and also traded for QB Carson Palmer in April of 2013, signing the quarterback to a contract extension the following November. Arians and Palmer led the Cardinals to a 49-30-1 regular season record and two playoff appearances over five seasons.

Then came the 3-13 year in 2018 under Arians’ successor, Steve Wilks.

After Arizona finished with the worst record in the NFL, churning through two offensive coordinators in the process, Wilks and almost all of his staff was fired, making way for the Kingsbury hire in 2019.

The 42-year-old has brought year-to-year improvement to Arizona. His first season saw the Cardinals go from three wins to five before eight victories in 2020. This past season, that total jumped to 11.

The required context, however, is that all three years saw Kingsbury’s team regress in the second half of the season. Arizona started 3-3 in 2019 before a 2-7 conclusion. Ditto for not maintaining momentum for a 5-3 opening the next year and going 2-5 the rest of the way. The 2021 campaign was the worst example of this, when a 10-2 certified contender status was wiped away by the team unraveling and losing five of its last six games.

That’s just in the NFL too. Kingsbury’s six seasons as head coach of Texas Tech all had similar years that trended downward as the season went on, approaching a decade of consistency.

The latest underwhelming back-half of the schedule from Kingsbury, in particular, had led to a portion of the fanbase and media calling for Kingsbury’s job.

Kingsbury’s central appeal as a head coaching hire was his reputation as a great molder of young quarterbacks, making him an ideal fit to coach 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray.

The two have seen a good amount of success together. Murray has made the Pro Bowl each of the last two seasons and Arizona’s offense ranked eighth in yards per game this year after finishing sixth in 2020.

Like Kingsbury’s record, though, the extra bit of context here is that Murray is coming off arguably the worst performance of his career, looking rattled and unprepared in Arizona’s Wild Card loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

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