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Steve Keim Happy With Free Agent Haul

Sporting News Executive of Year says Palmer restructure needed for injuries, rookies


Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim (left) receives the Sporting News Executive of the Year award from Sporting News writer Davis Steele Monday at the NFL spring meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.

Steve Keim received the Sporting News Executive of the Year award Monday – voted on by fellow NFL executives – letting him know how good of a job he did in 2014.

But the Cardinals General Manager is deep into 2015.

The offseason has been fruitful so far. "I never anticipated we'd come away with the (free agent) haul that we did," Keim said Monday afternoon at the Arizona Biltmore during the league's spring meetings, the first

time Keim has spoken since free agency began.

The big moves could be over. Many believed the Cardinals restructured quarterback 's contract, which freed $7 million in salary cap space, as a precursor to something. Keim said that wasn't the case, noting the Cardinals generally needed breathing room with the cap.

"Especially when you budget money not only for injured players throughout the year but 'x' amount for players we draft," said Keim, whose team has around $9.9 million in cap space, according to the NFLPA. "We are not in the green as much as people think we are, when you take into account those different things."

The Cardinals signed linebacker LaMarr Woodley, guard Mike Iupati, center A.Q. Shipley, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, defensive tackle Corey Peters and defensive end Cory Redding the first two days of the free agent period.

That doesn't mean the moves are over. Keim said the Cardinals will be "patient-slash-aggressive" in looking at the free agent

market. That's the philosophy that got them linebacker Karlos Dansby in 2013 and cornerback Antonio Cromartie last offseason.

"The second and third wave comes when guys come to their senses and realize they aren't going to get the dollars or the type of long-term or guaranteed deals they expected," Keim said.

"We'll pounce if the numbers are right. Right now if we went into the draft and didn't address another position, I feel good with where we are at."

Keim said the players added targeted two team needs: An increased physical presence on the offensive line, and versatility in the front seven on defense.

Iupati was a major key. Keim said he wanted the Cardinals to change their mindset on offense, to be able to set the tone with the running game and make a difference on second- and third-and-short. Iupati is definitely a player who can do that.

It means 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper will move to right guard, something that Keim thinks will make the offensive line much better than it has been.

"(Moving) is no reflection on Coop in terms of disappointment or anything like that," Keim said. "I'm still as high on Coop as ever, knowing he still has a chip on his shoulder and knowing he wants to prove people wrong. To me, it's about strengthening an area that's been a weakness for years."

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