The Arizona Cardinals officially announced their signing of former New York Jets starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum July 17 and he adds important depth to their offensive line room. Contract terms have not yet been disclosed, but it's likely close to a minimum salary deal.
While Beachum's exact spot on the line is also undetermined — he has played both tackle positions and is versatile enough to play guard — he is likely to add to the open competition at right tackle that is set to take place between veterans Marcus Gilbert and Justin Murray, as well as rookie Josh Jones, who just agreed to terms on his rookie contract with the Cardinals Tuesday.
The Cardinals were able to secure Beachum's services after an extended stay as a free agent, one that was longer than he was initially expecting. Speaking to The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio, the former Jets starter attributed his decision to come to the desert in large part to the relationships he already had there.
"It was a situation and a circumstance where I know a number of people in the organization," Beachum said. "The offensive line coach, Sean Kugler, was my offensive line coach when I got drafted in Pittsburgh. The running backs coach, (James) Saxon, was the running backs coach that was there my last two years in Pittsburgh. (Right tackle) Marcus Gilbert is another player from the Steelers that I played with when I was there in my four years in Pittsburgh, so I knew it had a number of people I knew in the organization. I usually train out here during the offseason, I've been doing so the last seven offseasons. And it just seemed like just a natural fit. Again, considering everything that's going on with COVID, the uncertainty with the NFL season, exposure to my family, being around my family. Just considering, again, all the circumstances that are surrounding the NFL season right now, it just sounded and it felt much like the best fit for me and my family at this point in time."
While Beachum said he is confident in where he has now ended up, at least for this season as he reportedly signed a one-year deal, the free agency process unfolded in a way he did not fully anticipate.
"It was different," he said. "I told a number of people, I'm not used to being on the streets that long. But considering everything that's going on, the pandemic, social unrest, there's just been a lot going on in our country. And I don't think, maybe, fans understand that. Our industry is affected just like any other industry in society, so that's part of what goes on with the NFL. That's part of life and it's just been a different experience, but happy to land somewhere and I'm excited to get to work."
A listed 6-foot-3 and 308 pounds, Beachum is an eight-year NFL veteran who has played in 104 career games with 99 total starts stemming from time with the Jets (2017-19), Jacksonville Jaguars (2016) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2012-15). He was drafted into the Steel City in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Southern Methodist. He spent the past three seasons in New York and started at left tackle in all 45 games he appeared in there.
The last two seasons, Beachum has had first-hand experience protecting a young quarterback. Since being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Sam Darnold has been the Jets starting signal-caller for the last two seasons. It has resulted in 26 games played (all starts) with a 59.9 percent completion percentage (512-of-855) for 5,889 passing yards, 36 touchdowns and 28 interceptions.
As a result, Beachum's experience working directly with a young quarterback should translate well in his transition from Darnold to Cardinals second-year shot-caller Kyler Murray, who won Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.
"When you're working with a young quarterback, I think the premier medium that you just have to have is communication," Beachum said. "You have to be able to communicate to that young quarterback and just be able to talk through situations, talk through circumstances. And I had Sam the last couple of years and was able to build that rapport and build that line of communication as the left tackle. And now coming here and being with Kyler, I'm just excited to continue [helping] him into a young career. (I) know that he's one of the superstars of the National Football League and know that he's going to be around for a long time, so excited to be a part of this offensive line and excited to serve. As an offensive lineman, our whole job is to protect and serve. I'm excited to protect him, I'm excited to work with the other linemen that I have across the line, (left tackle) D.J. Humphries and (left guard) Justin Pugh, who I actually work out with out here in the offseason. So, excited to get to work."