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Arizona Cardinals QB situation keeps future looking uncertain

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ESPN ranks them right in the middle of the league and worst in the division.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN, in all its offseason fun, has put together  their most recent set of power rankings -- based on the future of each team.

In these power rankings, the Arizona Cardinals ranked 16th, or right in middle of the league. The part that fans might not like is how they are last in the NFC West.

In each area, the team improved over the previous year, but the state of the other teams in the division hurt things. And despite the bright future there appears to be on the left side of the offensive line and the defensive backfield, the one position that drags things down is quarterback because of Carson Palmer's age and the uncertainty of the young guys being groomed for later.

The dilemma: The QB position will determine the fate of this franchise the next three seasons, with Palmer (who is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2014 season) and with his eventual successor (Logan Thomas, Ryan Lindley or a player not yet on the roster). Palmer turned the ball over in every one of the first nine games of the 2013 season, which will kill the fortunes of any team, no matter how good the defense (the Cardinals' defense was fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per play in 2013). Patrick Peterson will be due for a big contract extension soon, so figuring out the QB position is just a starting point. --Louis Riddick

The youth movement: The Cardinals don't have a clear solution behind Palmer at QB, but if they can block for him, they have a pretty good 34-year-old QB. Where they really need development is with a healthy Tyrann Mathieu and in early impact from 2014 first-round safety Deone Bucannon. This could become not merely one of the best secondaries in the NFL but also one of the NFL's most versatile and effective in tackling -- a huge factor when you play Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson each two times a season. --Mel Kiper

As upset as this can make you as a fan, you must remember this -- it isn't dealing with the now, and the future can change quickly.

It is true that the Cardinals are not set for the future at a lot of positions. This year's rookie class needs to play. Between Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett and John Abraham, you have a veteran core that doesn't lend itself to the future.

The three division teams ahead of the Cardinals in said rankings have one main difference -- the quarterback. All are younger. Of course, if Logan Thomas shows quickly that he can be "the guy," Arizona will shoot up the chart.

The future of the Cardinals looks pretty good, but only if the quarterback situation works out. If it doesn't, then even the middle of the pack will be generous.