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Arizona Cardinals ‘preparing’ for coaching search, evaluating candidates

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury will be on the sideline with the team for their season finale in Week 18 against the San Francisco 49ers. As he coached the players this week, though, the front office reportedly started evaluating candidates to replace him.

Less than a year after signing a contract extension, Kingsbury is on the hot seat and facing the possibility of becoming one of the NFL coaches fired in 2023. It comes just one season after Arizona started 7-0, only to collapse in the second half before losing 34-11 to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Wild Card Game.

The second-half collapse led many to believe Kingsbury would be fired in 2022. Instead, owner Michael Bidwill signed Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim to long-term extensions through 2027.

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

Less than a year after those deals were signed, Keim stepped away from the team and he isn’t expected to return as general manager. While an official decision hasn’t been made regarding Kingsbury’s future, Arizona’s action behind the scenes suggests a separation is possible.

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, the Cardinals have been preparing in recent weeks for a coaching search. Arizona is looking into the best NFL coaching candidates in 2023, evaluating its potential options

Why money will influence Arizona Cardinals’ offseason

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Money is a factor for Bidwill. He isn’t one of the richest NFL owners and just spent unprecedented money, by the organization’s standards, on extensions for Keim, Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray in 2023.

Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has been floated as a possibility. He prefers to be on the West Coast and reportedly wants to be partnered with a top, young quarterback. However, New Orleans set a high asking price for his rights via trade and Payton also wants to become one of the highest-paid coaches in football.

Related: Arizona Cardinals coaching candidates

Those factors could push Bidwill, who will also likely be looking for a new general manager, away from Payton. If the financial cost of hiring a new coach and top executive are influencing factors in the decision-making, promoting internal candidates becomes extremely likely.

In that scenario, the Cardinals might name defensive coordinator Vance Joseph as their new head coach with executives Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson potentially splitting GM duties.

Related: Kliff Kingsbury won’t resign as Arizona Cardinals coach

Rumors suggesting Keim and Kingsbury could be replaced with internal hires have already sparked frustration from fans on social media. However, Bidwill’s financial situation and his decision to extend his head coach and general manager when many advised against it, might dictate what happens this offseason.