Cardinals’ Steve Keim dives into 3 in-house free agents at NFL Combine

Mar 2, 2022, 5:14 PM | Updated: 5:46 pm

Steve Keim, general manager of the Arizona Cardinals speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combi...

Steve Keim, general manager of the Arizona Cardinals speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Aside from quarterback Kyler Murray’s desire for an extension, the Arizona Cardinals have other contracts to consider with 21 unrestricted free agents like wide receiver Christian Kirk, backup quarterback Colt McCoy and outside linebacker Chandler Jones set to test the waters this offseason.

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t go down the team’s entire list of free agents during their NFL Combine press conferences on Tuesday, but they did provide some insight on that trio.

“We’ll have conversations this week with a number of their representatives, but a lot of guys that came in, and in my opinion, put themselves in a position to be rewarded and really excited about a number of those guys,” Keim told reporters Tuesday. “I can go down the list … but really proud of a lot of those guys and what they contributed this year.”

WR Christian Kirk

Kirk turned in his best season as a pro in Year 4, recording career highs in receptions (77) and receiving yards (984) to go along with five touchdowns (second among Cardinals pass catchers).

The Valley native has shown steady growth since entering the league in 2018 as a second-rounder.

“I think Christian’s had a really nice career,” Keim said. “More so than that, he’s a guy that comes into the building every day and does everything right. To me, that’s a big part of my appreciation for what he brings to the table, as well as he’s done a number of nice things.

“He’s predominantly a slot receiver who creates some of those mismatches with nickels and safeties, really good feet, really good foot speed and I think he’s a great competitor, so we would certainly like to have him back as well.”

QB Colt McCoy

In his first season as a Cardinal, McCoy proved his worth as a mentor and another voice for Murray. He also showed off his ability as a signal caller, going 2-1 in the three games he filled in for Murray.

Over the course of those three matchups, McCoy completed 75.5% of his passes for 684 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. He also chipped in 40 yards on 14 carries on the ground.

“I would certainly like to have Colt back and we’ve had those conversations,” Keim said. “He was a guy that not only was he able to come in for a few games and do a very nice job when he was forced to play, his ability to see things that maybe Kyler doesn’t while he’s playing on the field and be able to have a second set of eyes on the sideline, in the film room.

“A guy who’s been a true pro’s pro. To me, I don’t think you can put a value on that because of the things he has done internally in our building.”

LB Chandler Jones

Jones was another name brought up during Keim’s and Kingsbury’s interviews on Tuesday.

“He’s one of the 21 we’d obviously love to have back,” Keim said. “I think we all know the market dictates that and we’ll certainly have conversations with his representatives as well.”

Jones finished the season with 10.5 sacks, second on the team to only Markus Golden (11). Five of those sacks, however, came in Week 1, with the linebacker producing just 5.5 over his next 14 games played. Still, Jones racked up 47 pressures in 2021, keeping defenses honest and helping free up Golden.

“I think we’ll look at it regardless,” Kingsbury said of the likelihood of adding to the OLB position. “We’re always trying to improve, that’s an area in (defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s) defense that’s one that we need to play at a high level. If we’re not able to sign Chandler and even if we are, to get younger there would probably be a good thing.”

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