After a 2012 with four quarterbacks under center for the Arizona Cardinals, 2013 was all about stability and continuity. After the position was a dumpster fire for roughly three seasons, Arizona traded for Carson Palmer and he was the only quarterback to take a snap for the team.
Let's look at the season for each of the three QBs on the roster and what could be on the horizon.
Palmer was up and down, but ended with a career year. He set a career-high in passing yards with 4274, becoming the first quarterback to throw for over 4000 yards in a season for three teams. He threw for 24 touchdowns, which is good enough to be the sixth most by a Cardinals quarterback ever. He also threw 22 interceptions.
However, while he turned the ball over too much, he was the right answer at the position for now.
He was tough, calm and was an unquestioned leader on offense.
His contract goes for two more seasons, but the final year of his contract voids five days after the 2015 Super Bowl, so he basically is under contract for 2014.
Before the trade for Palmer, the Cardinals signed Stanton to a three-year, $8.2 million contract in the first wave of free agency. When he was signed, it looked like he would end up the team's starter. He didn't end up even taking a snap. He is under contract through 2015.
Lindley also did not get any game time this season after starting four games in 2012. He almost did not make the squad out of training camp, as head coach Bruce Arians considered going with only two quarterbacks on the roster. Lindley is also signed through 2015.
Despite some uneven times, it appears that Palmer is the man once again in 2014. His play won the team some games and his play also was the reason there were some losses, but despite the uneven play for a good chunk of the year, it was one of the best season a Cardinals QB has ever had. He now has had a year in the offense and will enter offseason workouts not having to learn concepts completely different than what he has used in the past.
However, Palmer is not the future, as far as we can tell.
With his contract structured as it is, he will be a free agent after the season, meaning the team obviously should be looking for the QB of the future.
They do not, though, have to draft a quarterback if they aren't sold on any of the players that will be available to them. In a perfect world, they draft a player this year, let him sit behind Palmer for a season and then take over in 2015.
However, the quarterback position could go a few ways.
Let's say Palmer improves on his 2013 and cuts down on turnovers, throwing for 4000+ yards, 25 or so touchdowns and only 14-15 interceptions. Would you want the team to let that sort of production walk?
If he plays about the same or worse than 2013, the team can easily let him go.
Even still, if the team drafts a quarterback or not, they still have Stanton, who was presumably going to be the starter in 2013 had the team not have traded for Palmer.
In a nutshell, in signing Stanton and trading for Palmer, the Steve Keim and Bruce Arians gave themselves a three-year window to find and develop their franchise quarterback -- or at least a three-year window to give themselves another three-year window.
Roster projections for 2014:
Palmer doesn't look like he is going anywhere. Stanton looks like a lock. If the Cardinals draft a quarterback, then we will see the last of Ryan Lindley on the roster. If no one is drafted, you can bet on an undrafted QB coming in and battling Lindley for the number three slot.