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Steve Keim: 'You Can't Replace Chandler Jones'

Options like trades, free agency being considered

When a general manager builds a roster for a particular season, he knows there will be things that happen -- especially with injury -- that will force adjustments as the season goes on.

But then the Cardinals and GM Steve Keim were faced with the loss for the season of Chandler Jones, their best pass rusher, and Keim acknowledged Friday morning on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station, there's only so much that can be done.

"It's heartbreaking," Keim said. "The guy is such a likable person and a great human.

"I said this weeks ago, that there are certain players you cannot replace. You can't replace Chandler Jones. Now collectively as a group we all have to step up, but you can't replace Chandler Jones. Unfortunately, Deacon Jones in his prime is not out there. You have to do the best you can."

That includes looking at both the waiver wire and trade options, Keim added, but with the latter, there is much involved.

"There are so many things that go into a trade," Keim said. "Two teams have to be willing to make it happen, there is the question of why a team is willing to part with a player that you covet. Then there is the second part, which is the financial part, especially when it's a one-year deal, giving up draft compensation for a guy for maybe 10 games with this COVID process, or are you able to benefit from multi-years left on the contract? There are so many things that go into it. You just have to do the best you can for the organization."

-- All personnel decisions and/or trades are now shaded with the unknown of the salary cap as well, with Keim (and the rest of the league) knowing this COVID-impacted season will likely push the salary cap down for next season. It makes draft picks more important.

"I think you have to value draft picks," Keim said. "I think you have to value draft picks moving forward, because of the unknown, the uncertainty of the revenue that comes in, and whether (the cap) drops all the way to $175 (million) next year, which we know is the floor. There is some reality to it. You know you have to be able to draft good players."

-- Keim was asked about Isaiah Simmons potentially getting snaps at outside linebacker.

"I just want him on the field," Keim said. "That being said, I know there are things that can stunt a player's growth. When you want a guy to play inside linebacker and he is your future, getting a player to get experience with his eyes and his instincts and his reads and the actions, it's one thing.

"But when you are talking about moving him to the outside, asking him to do different things, that's for the team, and that's fine, if he can handle that. But he's got to be significantly better than what you have already playing out there."

-- Keim said he was pleasantly surprised at the play of rookie defensive tackle Leki Fotu. "He had a phenomenal game, continues to grow and get better in that position. He really was disruptive and can be dominant at the point of attack."

-- Kyler Murray's return to Texas has to "feel unbelievably special," Keim said, as the quarterback goes back to home and play again in a stadium where he is 6-0 as a starter, including five high school games. But for the first time, Murray is a pro, and going against the Dallas Cowboys.

"He can downplay it, we can downplay it, but let's not minimize how exciting it must be for a young man to go in .... it's got to be so surreal," Keim said.

Keim compared Murray battling the Cowboys to his own NFL cup of coffee, when he was an offensive lineman with the Dolphins and he was in the huddle with Dan Marino calling plays.

-- Keim praised owner Michael Bidwill and the organization for helping to find a solution for defensive lineman Jordan Phillips to be able to attend his father's funeral Saturday and still play Monday night against the Cowboys.

"It's a great relief," Keim said.

-- Keim reiterated the Cards hope to get tight end Maxx Williams (ankle) back sometime after the bye. The Cards play the Seahawks after the Cowboys and then have their bye.

Masked GM Steve Keim before the home opener in 2020

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