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5 difficult decisions Arizona Cardinals must make after Kyler Murray injury news

Arizona Cardinals

At 4-9 on the season following Monday night’s loss, the Arizona Cardinals are just playing out the string while waiting for what promises to be an interesting offseason in the desert.

Monday’s news that star quarterback Kyler Murray did in fact suffer a torn ACL early in Monday’s defeat against the New England Patriots added another player to this.

Not only will Murray miss the final four games of the 2022 season, he’ll be out for a good portion of the 2023 campaign as the former No. 1 pick rehabs from the devastating injury.

For a Cardinals team that has become irrelevant on the broader NFL stage, the Murray injury actually gives them an opportunity to hit the pause button on their current plans and start anew.

He’s still only 25 years old and is not going anywhere due to the massive contract Arizona signed the two-time Pro Bowler to this past offseason. Whether Cardinals fans like it or not, Murray is going to be a face of the franchise moving forward.

As sad as it sounds, it’s now time for Arizona’s brass to build for the 2024 season and beyond. Here are five difficult decisions that must be made following the 2022 campaign.

Related: Arizona Cardinals schedule and game-by-game predictions

Time for the Arizona Cardinals to finally fire Steve Keim

arizona cadinals fire general manager steve keim
Rob Schumacher / USA TODAY NETWORK

This has to be the obvious first move once January comes calling. Sure the Cardinals’ ownership group would take a huge financial hit by moving off this recently-extended general manager. But there’s no reason for Keim to maintain his current role.

He took over for Arizona in that role back in 2013. The team has posted a mere 80-76-2 record during that span. Though, most of that success came early during his tenure with the Cards posting a 34-14 mark in his first three seasons. Since then, the organization is 46-62-2.

It’s been all about first-round draft busts during Keim’s tenure, too. First-round picks Jonathan Cooper (11 starts), Deone Bucannon (56 starts), Robert Nkemdiche (six starts), Haason Reddick (31 starts) and Josh Rosen (13 starts) were all busts in Arizona. You simply can’t build a team this way.

Now, it’s time for Arizona to go in another direction with a fresh face. Someone like Tampa Bay Buccaneers front office person Jacqueline Davidson or Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel Joe Horitz would work well.

Related: Arizona Cardinals’ Kliff Kingsbury and head coaches on the hot seat

Kliff Kingsbury must be a “Black Monday” casualty

arizona cardinals fire kliff kingsbury
Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cardinals are going to fire Keim, they might as well blow up the entire power structure. To an extent, we’ve seen this work with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions this season. Heck, the Buffalo Bills’ emergence to Super Bowl contention only happened once they made a similar decision a few years back.

Simply put, Kingsbury is in over his head in the NFL. Nothing we have seen from the former college coach has proven that his style translates to the professional football world. Heck, Kingsbury-led college teams compiled a 35-40 record in his six seasons prior to coming to Arizona.

With the Cardinals, it’s been a complete and utter disaster. The team boasts a 6-12 record in December and January with Kingsbury as the head coach. It has also now lost 14 of 19 over the past calendar year. The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Arizona is on the brink of that with Kingsbury right now.

Related: Top NFL head coach, GM candidates

Arizona Cardinals hire DeMeco Ryans as its next head coach

arizona cardinals hire demeco ryan
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Some might think that Arizona wants another offensive-minded head coach to pair up with Kyler Murray. We’re not of that thought process. Rather, the Cardinals’ brass could put him on notice by going defense with their next head coach. The idea would be to tell Murray in no uncertain terms that the organization is bigger than his bloated ego.

As for this particular hire, bringing in one of the most-respected coordinators in the NFL from a division rival would be an absolute coup. A prodigy, Ryans took over for Robert Saleh as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator in 2021 and is now leading one of the most-dominant units in modern NFL history.

Opp. PPGOpp. YPGPressure RateYards per PlayDVOA Rank
202121.5 (10th)310 (3rd)24.1% (20th)5.1 (4th)-7.4% (7th)
202215.2 (1st)286.8 (1st)23.1% (11th)4.8 (T-1st)-17% (2nd)
2022 defensive stats through Week 13 via Football Outsiders and Pro Football Reference

Having given up the most points in the NFL through 14 weeks, Arizona must fundamentally change its defense. That includes scheme, personnel and leadership. There’s little doubt that Ryans would bring a capable offensive coaching staff with him to the desert. This really is a no-brainer for owner Michael Bidwill and Co.

Arizona Cardinals’ 2023 NFL Draft should be more about the future

Currently slated to pick sixth overall in the annual event next spring, Arizona has an opportunity to add an impact performer. That’s especially true if the team does in fact stick with Murray as its long-term solution.

However, the thought process must be more longer-term. With a new general manager calling the shots, these Cardinals would benefit from actually trading down out of its early first-round selection for more future capital.

The Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all slated to pick below Arizona in the first round. Each one has a need for a quarterback of the future. Why not turn that into a huge haul of picks, both in 2023 and beyond? Arizona is not competing for a playoff spot in 2023 with Murray likely sidelined a majority of the season. Building up draft capital for when he returns should be in the cards here.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL power rankings

Arizona Cardinals trade DeAndre Hopkins

arizona cardinals trade deandre hopkins
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no reason for a non-contending team to roster a receiver of Hopkins’ ilk. Sure he’s one of the most-dynamic pass-catchers in the league today. But he’s not going to move the needle too much for a squad that’s going to continue hovering around last place in 2023.

It also must be noted that Hopkins will become a free agent following the 2024 campaign and will likely be seeking out a long-term extension this coming offseason. Again, why exhaust the capital on that?

Instead, Arizona can sell high on a 30-year-old receiver who is still top-five at his position in the league. It wouldn’t be a surprise if a contending team picking at the bottom of Round 1 offered up that selection and change for a veteran. This is all about roster building. And in reality, Hopkins’ future in Arizona should be limited due to both the team’s standing and his own status as a veteran.

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