NFL

Kliff Kingsbury to draft from Cardinals headquarters, ribs Rams' beach house as ploy for camera time

The NFC West, like most NFL divisions (the jury is still out on the NFC East), is home to a heated battle for supremacy.

That war extends beyond the football field. Welcome to the fight over real estate prestige.

A year after Kliff Kingsbury sent envious fans and media members into a stir over his swanky Arizona pad and temporary draft headquarters, the Rams responded with a pristine location of their own. Forget war rooms — 2021 is the year of the beach house.

Kingsbury wasn’t fazed by Sean McVay’s upgrade in Malibu, California — a picturesque, sponsored setting in which Rams staffers will take in the first round of the draft from a rented home with the option to go for a swim or a stroll along the ocean. While the Cardinals coach will return to the team facility for their super-serious draft, he won’t spend a moment wondering if McVay and Rams general manager Les Snead are about to trade up ahead of the Cardinals, or if they’re working on their tans.

“I really think it’s just a ploy by McVay to allow himself the opportunity to take his shirt off again and jump in the pool like he did on Hard Knocks, sip some rose, take a dip in the ocean and make some draft picks,” Kingsbury quipped when speaking with reporters Thursday.

The Rams don’t own a first-round pick, so their beachfront setting will be as much about enjoyment as it will be about scanning their big board for the next playmaker. As they say, the three Rs are most important: rest, relaxation and return on investment.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, have had a whale of an offseason and aim to improve further with the draft starting with the 16th overall pick. Arizona’s blend of youth and key veterans could put the Cardinals in the postseason for the first time in the Kingsbury era, but they won’t start to make tangible progress toward such a goal until well after the draft.

For now, the task falls primarily on the shoulders of GM Steve Keim, who will share the war room with Kingsbury that is far from a natural body of water. McVay, meanwhile, will likely be dreaming up new schemes with the crash of ocean waves serving as a soundtrack to his Xs and Os.

Each have all summer and plenty of on-field time to catch some rays — while wearing shirts, of course. We’ll leave the celebratory imbibing to whoever proves to be better near the end of 2021. That camera time will be exponentially more rewarding than a dive into a pool for HBO.

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