Only one team thus far has an opening for a general manager and a head coach, the Arizona Cardinals. After going 4-13 under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, it was clear there was a need for change. General manager Steve Keim stepped away for health reasons, but his job was surely in doubt after mediocre results throughout his tenure.
The Cardinals will likely prioritize finding their general manager first in order to create a symbiotic relationship between the front office and coaching staff. We’ll break down the candidates Arizona has already made contact with in both of their searches. Be sure to check back often for new information in our Cardinals head coach and general manager tracker.
Latest on the Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Search
The Cardinals have only been linked to two coaches thus far. One is already on their staff, and the other is arguably the top coach on the market. Both represent a different type of strategy than the franchise utilized in their last coaching search.
Sean Payton, former Saints Head Coach
There’s a history between the Cardinals’ ownership and Payton, as he was a ball boy as a kid. Arizona has not only requested an interview with Payton, which can happen no earlier than January 17, but Payton reportedly has done his homework on the Cardinals.
He’s considered a fan of quarterback Kyler Murray, and the Cardinals can offer the unique ability for Payton to run the entire football side of the franchise because no general manager is in place.
MORE: 2023 Head Coach & General Manager Interview Tracker
Payton will need to consider Murray’s torn ACL, capped-out roster, and thin depth across both sides of the ball. Working with Murray, DeAndre Hopkins (if he’s still on the team), Marquise Brown, and others will be tempting, but this team needs a lot of work. It’ll be important for Payton to build a strong defense, as he eventually did late in his Saints career, in order to complement Murray and his offense.
For Payton, the power and prospect of already having a franchise quarterback is something no other team can offer right now. Of course, he’ll need to have confidence he can get the most out of Murray, who struggled in 2022 despite his tremendous skill set.
Vance Joseph, Cardinals Defensive Coordinator
Though Joseph’s defense with Arizona fell apart along with the rest of the team in 2022, he helped improve the unit in each of his first three years with the franchise. The Cardinals peaked at 11th in defense in 2021, showing shocking effectiveness as a pass defense despite being devoid of talent in the secondary.
Joseph would probably be a much stronger candidate this offseason if he was able to repeat any of that success this past year, but everything crumbled within the franchise.
The franchise clearly respects the work the 50-year-old has done, and his previous tenure as head coach of the Denver Broncos will be seen as a positive as he searches for his second job in charge. Joseph would be far from a sexy choice considering his issues of him building a formidable offense in Denver and his lack of high-end defenses throughout his career as a coordinator.
Latest on the Arizona Cardinals General Manager Search
The Cardinals have already knocked some of their general manager interviews out. Because of salary cap limitations and the team’s relatively weakened roster after years of poor draft classes, their next personnel man will have their work cut out for them. This job will be more attractive if ownership is willing to take a step back and rebuild a bit.
Here are the names we’ve already seen linked to the opening.
Reese is the most established name the Cardinals have talked to and has one of the deepest resumes on the market. The former Giants general manager oversaw the team’s two Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011 and served from 2007 until 2017. His most notable acquisitions include Pro Bowlers Jason Pierre-Paul, Odell Beckham Jr., Landon Collins, and Linval Joseph.
Reese has a strong scouting background, starting as a college scout for the Giants in 1994 before working his way up. He left the Giants with a relatively weak roster, though, and the team finished 3-13 in his final year. Hiring Reese now would seem like a move that lacks innovation and spark, as the game has changed.
Ossenfort is the Tennessee Titans’ director of player personnel and has 21 years of NFL experience. He’s been in his current position for three years and was in New England for 15 years previously. It’s possible Ossenfort could be in line for a promotion to the Titans’ general manager role with Jon Robinson recently fired, but he could also be on the outs if head coach Mike Vrabel won that power struggle and wants his own choice of front office personnel.
The Cardinals interviewed Chicago Bears assistant general manager Ian Cunningham on Monday. Cunningham just completed his first season with the Bears, but he’s been in the NFL since 2008. He most recently served as the director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles before moving to Chicago. The Titans also requested an interview with Cunningham.
Ran Carthon played running back in the NFL before starting his scouting career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2008. Since then, Carthon has gained experience with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. He’s been the 49ers’ director of player personnel for the last two seasons. He turns only 42 this February.
Adam Peters is another 49ers executive the Cardinals are interested in. The assistant general manager has been in the NFL for 20 years, including two years in his current position and four years as the team’s vice president of player personnel. He had previously worked with the Broncos from 2009-2016.
Update: Peters has reportedly turned down Arizona’s request and an interview request from Tennessee.