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Arizona Cardinals signing Antonio Cromartie says plenty about Steve Keim

All morning I'm thinking nothing will take me away from college basketball. This is my time to do nothing but do what I love. Baseball and college basketball.

Then the Cardinals strike. Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson are in the same defensive backfield.

It's not just the signing that makes Steve Keim impressive as a GM, it's the way he goes about it. Any GM could have thrown enough cash at Cromartie to get him to jump. Keim uses leverage and recruiting at the same time, which seems to be impossible.

If you're a Cardinals fan, you should be gushing over this signing. The Cardinals got a player on a one-year deal who wants to prove he's more than a one-year deal player. The Cardinals have a CB who's been expected to shut down the number one receiver and play at an elite level. However, the Cardinals won't need him to do that.

It is a big deal what this does for the Cardinals' defense. Many things will be written about what Todd Bowles can do with his new toy. Yes, that's important. But to me, the bigger deal is Keim.

The signing of Jared Veldheer is nice because he's an above average, young left tackle. The contract for Veldheer is much bigger than just the signing. While other teams completely over-pay, Keim filled a need while getting value at the same time. Few GMs can pull off that double.

Now, Keim gets a proven CB on a contract that forces Cromartie to prove it again. Keim wanted Cromartie but when Antonio didn't sign, Keim talked with another CB. Cromartie didn't get the offers he was looking for elsewhere. He also wanted to be a Cardinal and his agent knew it. Keim didn't panic and pressured Cromartie at the same time. He completely read 31 other GMs correctly. Keim never negotiated against himself.

We've always known athletes want to play in Phoenix. Now athletes want to play for Bruce Arians. Athletes love talking to a football player and Keim is that player. Steve Keim isn't terribly far removed from his playing days. He speaks to the players the way they want to be spoken to. He's not so old that he's some suit in an office, but he's experienced enough that his youthful mistakes are out of the way.

He evaluates talent well. He negotiates well. He recruits well. He manages a staff well. What other criteria is left for a good GM?

Seattle and San Francisco are still the class of the division. That doesn't change until it's proven on the field. Never forget, however, the Cardinals are only one season removed from their third straight year with a six-game losing streak. That was the last year of Steve Keim not in his current position as general manager. Since then, he's 2-0 in offseasons.

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