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Keim on Kingsbury Oklahoma Rumors: 'We Don't Want to Lose Kliff'

Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said simply, “We don’t want to lose Kliff,” regarding speculation he could be targeted by the University of Oklahoma.

Since Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury was named as someone the University of Oklahoma was targeting as a replacement for Lincoln Riley last Sunday, Kingsbury’s name has not even been mentioned in most stories speculating about the open job.

So Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was asked during his weekly appearance Friday on ArizonaSports 98.7 if he was surprised at Kingsbury being named as a possibility.

Said Keim, “I'm not surprised. To me, it's a compliment to our organization. I think it really goes back to validate the things that Michael (owner Michael Bidwill) and I saw in him when we made that hire. And he's obviously earned it. The guy's done a tremendous job and we have continually gotten better and I think he and our organization has grown together. And really, really excited about the future."

Keim was then asked if there have been talks about a new contract with Kingsbury, given that 2022 is the final year of his deal, although there is a team option for 2023.

While claiming “that's a great question,” Keim then deflected it by saying, “But at the same time, we're so laser focused -- and I know Kliff brought this up -- on the Chicago Bears. So really, to be honest with you, there's so much that goes into a week of practice and preparation. When you look at the roster stuff that I have to do, all the different things that Michael’s involved with, and obviously, Kliff was trying to prepare for the Chicago Bears.”

Asked if he is worried about Kingsbury leaving, Keim said, “Anytime you hear somebody attached to a job, especially in today's day and age, when sometimes the rumors are correct, sometimes they're not, obviously, we don't want to lose Kliff. He's done a phenomenal job. And Michael, and I are his biggest fans. I think he's got a great job here, as Kyler Murray mentioned.

“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 gonna have some tough problems. That goes back to the accomplishments of this organization and the turnaround that we've had, we're actually going to have a lot of tough decisions, which is essentially what you want in my position.”

Keim was referring to numerous players that are scheduled to become free agents in 2022, many of whom, like running back James Conner and tight end Zach Ertz, came to Arizona this year under contract for only the 2021 season. Then, there are veterans such as linebacker Chandler Jones and wide receiver Christian Kirk.

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“There's a lot of them, obviously, with the success that we've had this year,” he said.

Would he try and get some players signed before the end of the season?

“It really is sort of tough. These guys are dealing with agents, we're dealing with agents, they're focused on football. So at the end of the day, a lot of times guys either want to test the market, or it's just not the appropriate time because they're so focused on football.

“So there's so many moving parts to it. But I will tell you, there are a lot of guys that we want to re-sign and make sure that they remain Cardinals for future years to come.”

Keim was asked specifically about quarterback Colt McCoy, who was instrumental in helping maintain the team having the best record in the NFL with Murray not playing.

While Keim said it is “highly important” that he be re-signed, he also noted that McCoy can’t sign a new contract until after the season is over. 

That’s because he signed what’s considered a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum salary, but his cap charge was lower than the money received. In McCoy’s case, his $1,212,500 deal counted only $987,5000 against the salary cap.

Keim did say, “We all know that what he's done on the field is second to none in terms of a guy that can come in and play at a high level and keep you on pace of winning. But at the same time, you look back and you see how many good things he has done off the field with his leadership and the things he does in the film room with Kyler and Kliff and Cam (Turner), our quarterback coach. It's hard to say what that value is, but there's no doubt that’s a reason for a lot of our success.”