Five Keim Time Free Agent Signings That May Have The Biggest Impact on the Cardinals
With the Arizona Cardinals holding their first training camp open on July 30, many fans will be able to see this new team in person at a highly anticipated event in Arizona for the upcoming 2021 NFL season. GM Steve Keim has been able to meet many free agency and draft needs, but he has a reputation for adding proven veterans late in the offseason who end up having a huge impact on the team.
And these late additions are considered “Keim Time” signings.
Here’s the growing list: John Abraham, Eric Winston, Dwight Freeney, Jermaine Gresham, Chris Johnson, Tramon Williams, Josh Bynes, Tre Boston, Dr. Kirkpatrick and Kelvin Beachum.
All of the above players were signed during the months of July or August with the exception of Freeney, which was added in October 2015.
One position that hasn’t been addressed is the tight end, but the Cardinals are expected to add a veteran over the next month.
Who will be the signatories of this year’s “Keim Time”?
Here are five names to remember:
Geno Atkins – Defensive Tackle
What do Geno Atkins, Darqueze Dennard, Jordan Phillips and Shawn Williams have in common?
They’ve all played for Vance Joseph in the NFL and the Cardinals like to add players their coaches know well. Especially for players added late in the offseason, familiarity is key to reducing the learning curve. Atkins, an 11-year veteran, is just one year away from a five-sack season with 53 total pressures created and a Pro Bowl selection.
His accolades include eight Pro Bowls and a two-time First-Team All-Pro selection. It didn’t make sense for the Cincinnati Bengals to limit Atkins to a situational role last season even though he regressed. I have my doubts that his regression was as steep as the Bengals claimed. A starting defensive line with JJ Watt, Jordan Phillips and Geno Atkins seems too exciting to pass up.
Tyler Eifert – Tight End
While we’re on the subject of former Bengals, let’s take a look at the opposite side of the ball at a position of need for the Cardinals. At one point in Tyler Eifert’s career, he was considered the next elite tight end in the NFL with an excellent 13 TD season in 2015. Unfortunately for him, he was very injury-prone after missing 54. career matches over his eight-year career.
While he could be susceptible to injury, Eifert may have turned a new leaf with just one missed game in the past two seasons. He was not placed in the most ideal situation with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Giving Kyler Murray another big target would help the offense.
At 6’6 ” with Eifert’s promising health outlook, the Cardinals should try his luck with him. Any free agent at this point will not command the best bucks and the Cardinals need a vertical threat on the tight end.
Larry Fitzgerald – Wide Receiver
Is Fitzgerald ready to call it a career and hang up his spikes?
That remains the biggest unanswered question since the end of the 2020 season. The legendary Arizona Cardinal has just had a year of setting career lows across the board in catches (54), yards on receiving (409) and touchdowns (1). While it looks like the Cardinals are gearing up to leave the future Hall of Fame with the additions of AJ Green and Rondale Moore, he will be back if he decides to return for another season.
Fitzgerald knows the offense and can therefore continue to take his time before making a decision on his future in the NFL. He will be 38 in August and training camp is just around the corner.
In a recent poll, nearly 52% of 114 voters believe he will retire.
I want to know what everyone is thinking here.
– Andy Kwong (@ akwong31) July 13, 2021
Steven Nelson – cornerback
The Cardinals already have the cornerback numbers which include Byron Murphy, Malcolm Butler, Robert Alford, Darqueze Dennard, Marco Wilson, Tay Gowan and a few others. With this team facing Julio Jones and AJ Brown in Week 1, the Cardinals will need everyone for this game against the Tennessee Titans.
It wouldn’t hurt to add more competition to the corner room with the addition of Steven Nelson, who just finished a two-steal season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. At this point, it looks like a wide-open cornerback battle between the veterans and the two draft picks in the draft. Nelson’s versatility in playing slots and the wide wedge should make him a coveted free agent for a team in need.
Nelson recently hinted on Twitter that he could sign with a new team today or tomorrow.
Today or tomorrow stay connected
– Steve Nelson (@Nelson_Island) July 20, 2021
I highly doubt Nelson will sign with the Cardinals, but anything is possible.
Olivier Vernon – Edge Rusher
Chandler Jones skipped the mandatory minicamp and OTAs, which makes me skeptical about his future with the Cardinals. We’re just over a week away from training camp and there is no update regarding Jones’s situation in Arizona. Jones wants to get paid, and rightly so, given he’s been an elite, underpaid passer for the past decade. At the same time, he suffered a torn bicep injury that ended the season last October and the Cardinals may just want to see if he can return to his elite form by wanting him to play his contract. .
With Jones’ future uncertain, Dennis Gardeck’s rehabilitation from a torn ACL and Devon Kennard’s demotion last season, the Cardinals may need to add another passer to their roster. Getting a proven rusher like Olivier Vernon would only be a smart move if Chandler Jones is moved. I am in no way advocating that Jones be traded. I would very much like him to stay with the Cardinals.
In 2016, Vance Joseph got the chance to coach Vernon in Miami, but the Dolphins canceled his transition label that made him a flagship in free agency that year. If Jones is traded, Vernon would be a decent replacement option.
Who would you like the Cardinals to add from the available free agents?
Give us your opinion below.