Cardinals Experiencing Offseason Success Despite Coronavirus Setbacks
While the COVID-19 pandemic robs people of their sanity as they remain working from self-isolated locations (hopefully) to help curb its spread, the Arizona Cardinals still experienced a surge of productivity.
The franchise has arguably been the most successful in the NFL free agency period since the new league year began and made numerous splashes that have set the roster up well entering this season, should there be one.
In fact, as of Tuesday, the NFL announced that the draft and season will continue on as planned with no delay. They hope.
One of the biggest acquisitions of the entire free agency period, not just exclusively for the Cardinals, was the trade with the Houston Texans for elite wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round draft pick in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round and a 2021 fourth-round pick. It was highway robbery and another successful trade deal under general manager Steve Keim.
"I thought getting through free agency, executing the trade for DeAndre Hopkins, everything I think went very well," Cardinals chairman and president Michael Bidwill said on a video conference call with reporters Tuesday. "I was very impressed with how our staff was able to handle the changes (due to COVID-19) and that we were were able to execute very well. So hats off to Steve and (head coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) and to all of our scouts and personnel people and especially the IT department because we were prepared, even though we were working, many of us virtually, and through a difficult set of circumstances. I thought we did a good job."
Obviously when directly involved in a deal for Hopkins that re-shifts the face of the NFC West, Bidwill had reason to be excited.
"My reaction was very positive as you could imagine," he said. "Steve and I talked about it and there was a little bit of back and forth and so when the thing came together I was very excited and I knew it'd be a huge upgrade. Certainly not just for the football team and on the field, but he's just a terrific teammate. And then you saw he made a very generous ($150,000) contribution to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund here. So he's going to be a huge person for the community and I was really excited to see him take that leadership role on."
Keim has had success in the past on the trade market, but has received flak from fans regarding managerial decisions as well as questionable draft selections in the past. In Bidwill's eyes, however, Keim is leading the franchise in the right direction. The Hopkins trade was another indication of that. Now we will see how Keim follows it up with the NFL Draft looming in less than a month and the Cardinals owning the No. 8 overall pick.
"He's done a terrific job," Bidwill said. "Particularly with trades. And when I look at his view of how some of these players that maybe people are looking past — he sees a vision for how they will fit in with our team. So I think he's done a terrific job there and again with this latest trade. It certainly was a huge boost to our team."
Overall, the Cardinals' newfound roster composition after filling defensive holes in the linebacker corps with the signing of Devon Kennard from the Detroit Lions and De'Vondre Campbell from the Atlanta Falcons, as well as defensive linemen Jordan Phillips from the Buffalo Bills and Trevon Coley from the Indianapolis Colts sets the organization up for further success in 2020.
Bidwill wants the team to improve on the 5-10-1 season in 2019 that served as the introduction to the Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray era.
"I feel very good," Bidwill said. "There's obviously a lot more work to be done, the draft will be an important part of our addition of player talent. And then it always seems like after the draft there are always some late signings as we get closer to camp. So, there are still a few more steps as we get closer, but I like on paper how it's come together, not just the players with how they perform on the field, but also the things that we've heard about them with what kind of teammates they are, what kind of leaders they are in the locker room and their commitment to the game."