Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury fired after 4 seasons

Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have fired head coach Kliff Kingsbury, parting ways with him less than a year after he signed a contract extension.

Weeks after Arizona was eliminated from the playoffs in a 34-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Round, Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim signed multi-year extensions. The new contracts carried through 2027, with owner Michael Bidwill seemingly committed to the coach-GM combo along with quarterback Kyler Murray.

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However, plans for the future came unraveled this season. Arizona went 4-13, with Murray suffering a torn ACL and Kingsbury’s play-calling culminating in one of the NFL’s worst offenses.

Following Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers, securing the second four-loss season during Kingsbury’s tenure and one of the worst winning percentages in franchise history, Kingsbury has been fired.

The decision doesn’t come as a significant surprise. Many viewed Kingsbury as a potential candidate to be fired after the second-half collapse last season. However, Bidwill made the stunning move to both extend Kingsbury and Keim. A year later, Arizona is starting fresh.

While there’s a possibility that Kingsbury sits out the 2023 NFL season, receiving his payout from the Cardinals, he still has a promising future in coaching. While stints as a head coach at both Texas Tech and Arizona ended badly, he is still well-regarded for his offensive mind and will likely have his pick of offensive coordinator jobs at both the collegiate and professional levels.

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Evaluating the Arizona Cardinals’ future

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Arizona finds itself in a difficult spot moving forward. While sitting near the top of the 2023 NFL Draft order already armed with a franchise quarterback help make this a desirable job, there are also factors working against the Cardinals.

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For one, Bidwill is still viewed around the league as a relatively cash-strapped owner who will be tight with his spending. With the Cardinals’ owner now set to pay salaries for two coaching staffs, it could have an impact on how close he is willing to get to the 2023 NFL salary cap.

The roster is also in a challenging spot, especially with Murray poised to miss multiple games in 2023. J.J. Watt is retired, DeAndre Hopkins could be a potential trade candidate and Byron Murphy Jr. is one of the top NFL free agents in 2023. Arizona needs significant work to improve on both sides of the ball and there are limited resources to accomplish it.

Beyond those issues and the concern about how effective of an athlete Murray will be in his first season back from an ACL tear, there’s another reason for pause. Former teammates, NFL analysts and even people inside the Cardinals’ organization have criticized Murray’s work ethic, leadership and willingness to be coached.

The Cardinals will certainly target an offensive-minded coach to replace Kingsbury, preferably someone with a better track record in the NFL. There are plenty of great candidates available, but some of them might have reservations about the Cardinals’ roster, ownership and Murray.

Related: Vance Joseph ‘leading’ candidate to become Arizona Cardinals coach

Sean Payton and Jim Harbaugh are two obvious candidates who will be connected to this job. However, Bidwill’s reputation for being conservative with his spending might take both of those targets off the table.

The Cardinals can’t erase concerns any coaching candidate will have regarding Murray’s knee, but money and the opportunity to coach with a stable franchise would go a long way. Considering the franchise quarterback will be out to begin the 2023 season, patience with the new coach will also be crucial.

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