The future was on Kelvin Beachum's mind.
His own, yes, as he approached free agency. That was taken care of when the tackle agreed to a new two-year contract with the Cardinals going into his 12th NFL season. But it was also the future of others, as he went to Zambia in Africa prior to agreeing to the deal, spending time there (with his wife Jessica) to see water wells he helped facilitate to provide clean water for a needy area.
"It's not quite the same," Beachum said Monday, after returning to Tempe and signing his new contract. "The perspective that it gives is that this is all vanity. It can be taken away from you at any point and time. Life can be so much different. Much like there are levels to success, there are levels to humanity.
"Seeing humanity in that particular instance was something I've never experienced before. I had never had those type of emotions before that were struck from experiencing something like that. It put things into a much different light, that's for sure."
Beachum's worldview is what made him the Cardinals Man of the Year in 2021 and is a reason the team wanted him to return in some role -- "You exemplify what an NFL player should be," owner Michael Bidwill told Beachum during the signing – whether it is again starting on the right side or ultimately playing a swing tackle role if Josh Jones becomes the bookend with D.J. Humphries.
With three young children and his various social and humanitarian efforts, Beachum has a lot in his life – but not so much that he considered in the least the possibility of retirement.
"I love the game, I love the process," he said. "I was in the gym this morning. This is built into the fabric of who I am. I'm not saying I can't live without it, however, it is a very important piece of my life right now. It gives me purpose, it provides some meaning, it allows my family to operate in an interesting manner. It's always been, how do I mesh it all, bring it all together."
That'll be with a team in flux. The Cardinals have a new coach and general manager. They will also be without quarterback Kyler Murray to begin the season after ACL surgery. Beachum also noted in recent interviews he is hopeful and “excited” for Murray's continued growth into a franchise quarterback, especially after signing a contract extension.
The franchise's shifts aren't daunting to Beachum, who has played long enough to see it previously. That knowledge is a reason the Cardinals wanted to keep Beachum on the roster and in the locker room.
"I have had offensive line coaches, not only here but other teams, I've had offensive coordinators fired during the season," Beachum said. "I have been a part of transitions and changes that take place in the NFL. What is interesting and special about what is going on is that it is a top-down change. It's changed a lot.
"I studied organizational dynamics in college, so this is what we talked about. To be a part of the different organizations I've been a part of and seeing the changes in those organizations, you realize what can go well and what can go not so well. I really feel the changes that have been made are putting us on the path to the right direction. I can be a part of the solution instead of just talking about the problems."