Michael Bidwill called Kliff Kingsbury a great man.
"I have been around this organization my entire life and I don't know any coach that has worked harder than Kliff Kingsbury," the Cardinals owner said.
But Bidwill, citing that it was "just time for a change," fired Kingsbury as the Cardinals head coach on Monday morning, the day after the team finished a 4-13 season
The Cardinals will also need a general manager after announcing that Steve Keim, who had been on a medical leave of absence, had permanently left the organization to focus on his health.
The parallel searches to replace both have already started for the team with the No. 3 draft pick overall, as Bidwill said that "I don't know if we're as broken as people think."
Kingsbury finished with a 28-37-1 record over four seasons, with one playoff appearance. Keim, promoted to GM in 2013, oversaw a team that won an NFC West title in 2015 and made three playoff appearances.
Saying there was an "incredible sense of urgency," Bidwill said he has already interviewed internal GM candidates Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson, as well as one unnamed external GM candidate, and the search will "cast the net far and wide" for both GM and coach.
Harris and Wilson have been interim co-GMs with Keim on leave.
The preference is for the GM to be hired before the coach, Bidwill said, although if it happens the other way around, he would be OK with it.
Bidwill was able to get a head start on getting to know certain candidates with the league's accelerator program, which twice at league meetings over the past year have brought owners together with top minorities and women in the personnel and coaching ranks in an effort to diversify the hiring pool.
The Cardinals have reportedly already asked for permission of four GM candidates: Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters, 49ers director of pro personnel Ran Carthon, and Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort.
On the flip side, the Titans have reportedly asked permission to talk to Harris about their vacant GM post. Both Harris and Wilson have interviewed for multiple GM jobs in the past.
Bidwill declined to name any candidates other than the internal ones. Asked about his financial wherewithal to hire a high-profile coach, Bidwill said he wanted the "best coach and the best GM."
"I don't know if the biggest name correlates to the best coach," he said.
He also said having to absorb the Kingsbury contract extension just signed about a year ago would not be a factor.
"Nobody here is just hitting the easy button and saying let's keep this thing going," Bidwill said. "We'll live with the financial consequences."
Bidwill has fielded advice from around the league about candidates. He has also talked to or will talk to a handful of team leaders, including quarterback Kyler Murray. The discussions he has already had have led to a desire to aid the culture of both the locker room and the organization, Bidwill noted.
"It was pretty crazy with everything on and off the field," defensive lineman Zach Allen said Monday morning as players emptied their lockers. "Hopefully we can clean all that up.
"There have definitely been too many distractions."
Bidwill was leaving his options open. He said he didn't care if it was an offensive or defensive coach. He didn't care if it is a CEO-type or a head coach who wants to call plays. He doesn't see the need to say one or the other necessarily has to have personnel control, because he'd prefer a "real partnership" between the GM and coach.
There is much to do, with 30-plus free agents and a number of salary cap hurdles to clear. But it started Monday with a clean slate, and before news broke, that was the question to players in the locker room – if they wanted change.
"I want to play good football and turn this thing around," running back James Conner said. "That's what I want to do."
Game action photos from the Cardinals' matchup against the San Francisco 49ers during Week 18 of the 2022 NFL regular season