Cardinals GM: We’ll ax players who don’t ‘play for passion’

The playoffs aren’t a reality for every team in the NFL every season, which is a tough reality for some players to accept. They work hard during the offseason, in OTA’s and of course, week-to-week during the season. The ultimate goal is always making the playoffs — where you at least have a shot to get hot and make a run at the Super Bowl.

For the Arizona Cardinals, the harsh reality of the NFL may have set in this weekend. The Cardinals lost, 26-23, in a last-minute heartbreaker to the Miami Dolphins on the road. The loss dropped Arizona to 5-7-1, which basically eliminated any Wildcard hopes they had. And they’re three games back of the Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1) in the NFC West.

With three games left — including one at Seattle — the Cardinals still do have something to play for. But their postseason prospects are basically gone. Still, General Manager Steve Keim is hedging his bets, making sure his team knows that he’s expecting a competitive product for the rest of the season.

In an interview with Arizona Sports Radio 98.7 on Monday, Keim was clear that if any of his players don’t show a competitive spirit in these last few games, they won’t find themselves on the roster heading into the 2017 season.

“I have a pretty good feel (for what I want to do),” Keim said, per the team website. “I really do feel like our core talent on offense and on defense is in place. … These last three games are critical for a lot of reasons. I want to identify who loves it. Which guys are passionate about the game. Who are our top competitors? If you’re not going to compete and not play with passion you’re not going to be on this roster in 2017.”

Keim did say in the interview that he expects star wideout Larry Fitzgerald to be back with the team in 2017, though he will be one season older. Quarterback Carson Palmer is expected back as well.

“Based on conversations I had with them in training camp, I’d be surprised if they didn’t play next year,” Keim said.

The Cardinals’ GM is also expecting head coach Bruce Arians to come back in 2017. In fact, he said he knows he will, as the coach said as much recently.