Steve Keim: Cardinals can't be flat-footed in QB pursuit


Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim will see the return of All-Pro running back David Johnson and future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in 2018, and he just received a massive vote of confidence in a contract extension through 2022 from owner Michael Bidwill. Keim has it all, except for a starting quarterback.

He hopes to change that once the league year starts in March, when the floodgates to free agency open and Arizona can implement its plan, or plans.

"You have to have Plan A, B, C and D," Keim said Friday on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "Whether that is a, addressing it with a free-agent quarterback; b, trade option; c, draft; or all of the above. ... But at the end of the day you can't get caught on 'A' because there are factors that go into decisions by a free-agent quarterback [or] any trade process that you can't put your finger on.

"We just have to be prepared to move on to No. 2 or No. 3 and we can't get caught flat-footed if the first opportunity doesn't pan out."

Keim added that the presence of Johnson and Fitzgerald, who only just announced this week his intention to return, might entice a QB to test the desert in free agency.

"It will affect the recruitment part of it if in fact it's through free agency. There is no doubt Larry Fitzgerald's name and his reputation carries a lot of weight," Keim said. "We will, if we go down that path, certainly use Larry and David Johnson and all the other current stars on our roster to try to make sure any potential franchise quarterback understands that this is a special place."

With Carson Palmer retiring and Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert hitting the open market, Arizona is without a paddle under center. Sitting at the 15th spot in the 2018 draft, the Cardinals might miss the opening run on first-year quarterbacks too, so exploring their options in free agency (Plan A) will be vital.

With the aging Fitz returning to play out the final year on his deal, might the Cards be looking to give it one more serious go in 2018 and contend for the postseason with a veteran QB acquired through free agency, say Kirk Cousins?

Even if a deal to secure the biggest fish in the football sea doesn't come to fruition, Keim and the Cardinals insist they will be ready for whatever comes next.

"There are some free agents out there that are worthy. When you get to the draft process, it's an inexact science. It's purely projection," Keim said. "Whether you are taking one in the top 10 or trading up to the top 10, you better be sure you're going to be right on that pick."