The Arizona Cardinals have opted to stay in-house with their next general manager hire, promoting vice president of player personnel Steve Keim. He will replace Rod Graves, who was fired at the end of the 2012 season along with head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Much like Graves, Keim becomes general manager of the Cardinals after many years with the organization.
At his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Keim credited Graves for giving him his start in the business, but said that being an NFL general manager has been a dream of his since he was a kid. Despite interviewing with other teams about GM positions, Keim said he is a "Cardinal at heart" and wanted to stay in Arizona.
Owner Bill Bidwill said he looked at several candidates as part of his "due diligence," but that Keim was the best person for the job. Bidwill noted the success of other NFC West teams that operate with a strong coach and GM working together and hoped to emulate the model in Arizona.
Neither Bidwill or Keim would get into specifics of how they will operate moving forward, but Keim said he would bring confidence, a winning mentality and competitiveness to the job.
Keim, 40, started with the Cardinals in 1999 as a regional scout before being promoted to director of college scouting in 2006 and to director of player personnel in 2008. He finally worked his way up to vice president of player personnel in 2012 and has been an integral part of the Cardinals' draft success during his tenure in Arizona.
Arizona's draft picks during Keim's time as the team's player personnel executive include Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Patrick Peterson and Sam Acho.
Citing the core players on the roster in his press conference, Keim expressed his believe that Arizona did not need a complete overhaul, but rather needed to "retool" to be competitive again. He pointed to the team's need to improve it's offensive line during the offseason.
The big question fans will have is the team's plan at quarterback. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley are all under contract for the 2013 season. In a Dec. 31 press conference, owner Bill Bidwill said that the team was not ready to give up on Kolb. Arizona has the seventh overall pick in the draft this year.
The St. Louis Rams showed an interest in hiring Keim as their general manager last season, and he was a popular target again this past week, but ultimately he remained in Arizona and received a promotion. Over the last season as vice president of player personnel, Keim oversaw both scouting departments (pro and college) and assisted Graves with contract negotiations.
Prior to his front office career, Keim was a two-time All-ACC guard at N.C. State. He was briefly a member of the Miami Dolphins and the Edmonton Eskimos before returning to N.C. State as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.
Keim interviewed for the vacant general manager position with both the San Diego Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason before agreeing to terms with the Cardinals. He was considered one of the top two candidates in Jacksonville along with Atlanta Falcons director of player personnel David Caldwell, but now will remain in Arizona. His hiring is not a surprise as he was rumored to be one of the Cardinals top candidates and has been involved in their search for a new head coach since Whisenhunt was fired.