NFC West: Phil Emery

While the Arizona Cardinals and four other NFL teams continue to pursue head coaching candidates, I've put together a look at what the candidates might see when considering their options.

Arizona caught a break, it appeared, when one of their candidates, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, became available earlier than expected following a divisional-round playoff defeat.

McCoy will reportedly have a second interview with the Cardinals after meeting with the San Diego Chargers.

The chart shows some of what Arizona has to offer relative to what the four other teams have to offer. Most or all of the other teams appear to have more attractive quarterback situations.
Jason Licht's return to the Arizona Cardinals as player personnel director should be good for the team and for the man he's replacing.

Licht, last with Arizona as a personnel assistant in 2008, has worked extensively for the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, two of the more successful organizations during his years with those teams. He was a finalist to become the Chicago Bears' general manager, a job that went to Phil Emery.

The Cardinals made room for Licht by promoting Steve Keim from player personnel director to vice president of player personnel. Keim has been with Arizona since 1999. He remains second in command to general manager Rod Graves, but we probably shouldn't get too caught up in the titles. Graves has never thrown around his power. The Cardinals seem to work collaboratively, with input from coach Ken Whisenhunt, president Michael Bidwill, Graves and Keim, primarily.

Licht is rejoining the team in a role more significant than the one he held in New England (director of pro personnel). He sought advancement with Chicago and found it with Arizona.

Licht has worked for the Miami Dolphins (1995-1996), National Football Scouting (1997), the Carolina Panthers (1998), the Patriots (1999-2003), the Eagles (2003-2007), the Cardinals (2008) and again for the Patriots (2009-2011).

"NFL scouts who worked with Licht in Philadelphia say his personnel reports are 'concise' and convincing," Jeff Dickerson wrote for ESPNChicago. "He was considered one of the rising stars in the Eagles organization before being pushed out in 2008."

With Licht, the Cardinals should have a good feel for New England's personnel when the teams play in Week 2. That won't necessarily make stopping Tom Brady much easier, of course. But any edge is welcome.
The latest NFC West chat went into overtime, but there's more ground to cover.

Joe from Fort Worth asked about the Arizona Cardinals' chances for acquiring a second-round choice to replace the one they sent to Philadelphia in the Kevin Kolb trade.

"I'd like to hear your thought process regarding your answer -- the philosophy of the decision makers, needs of the team, depth and/or positional strength of this draft, etc.," Joe wrote.

The Cardinals hold the 13th overall choice, so we start there.

In 2001, Buffalo traded the 14th pick to Tampa Bay for the 21st and 51st picks.

In 2010, Denver traded the 13th overall choice (acquired from San Francisco) to Philadelphia for the 24th choice and two third-rounders (70th, 87th).

In other cases, teams moved back five or six spots from No. 13 for packages including a pick in the 70s or 80s overall, plus lesser considerations.

Sliding back five or six spots would be a realistic expectation for the Cardinals.

San Diego picks 18th and Chicago 19th, to name two potential trading partners in such a scenario. Both teams have acted aggressively and with urgency this offseason. That could indicate a willingness to move up in the draft for a specific player.

The Chargers' front office and coaching staff narrowly averted getting fired following a disappointing 2011 season. The Bears replaced general manager Jerry Angelo with Phil Emery, who traces some of his philosophy to New England's Bill Belichick via Atlanta's Thomas Dimitroff.

Dimitroff, who orchestrated the Falcons' bold trade to acquire the sixth overall choice of the 2011 draft, described Emery as "aggressive" and part of a new wave of GMs.

"I believe this is indicative of where we are as team builders in this league as far as making bold, aggressive moves if we deem they’ll be impactful for our team," Dimitroff told the Chicago Sun-Times, speaking of Emery's move to acquire receiver Brandon Marshall.

Arizona needs a tackle and might see little choice but to select one if, say, Riley Reiff or another highly rated prospect were available. But if the tackle-needy Bears were willing to part with the 19th and 50th choices for a chance to move up, would they consider it?

San Diego could use a guard to replace the recently retired Kris Dielman. Would the Chargers part with the 18th and 49th choices for a shot at, say, David DeCastro? Might they consider moving up for other players, as AFC West blogger Bill Williamson suggested they might? And what might they pay to do so?

We cannot answer such questions definitively. The teams themselves might not know the answers. But we can have fun considering the possibilities, and hopefully learn something along the way.

Thanks, Joe, for advancing the conversation.