The 2014 season isn't completely done yet, as there are four teams remaining in the postseason. However, it is time to begin looking ahead at the offseason for the Arizona Cardinals. Over the next few days, I will go through each position group on offense and defense, look at the roster and what the status is for the position, who could be back, who could be gone and some questions moving forward.
Today, we start with the quarterback position.
Carson Palmer, signed through 2018 (but 2018 year voids)
Drew Stanton, signed through 2015
Logan Thomas, signed through 2017
Ryan Lindley, will be a restricted free agent
All things considered, this is a pretty stable group moving forward. The biggest question right now is how will Palmer bounce back from his torn ACL. He is doing well and is on track to be able to participate in offseason drills. At age 35, how much does he have left? he was very effective in 2014, but only played in six games.
Drew Stanton is also coming off an injury, having sprained ligaments in his knee. Infection set him back. Head coach Bruce Arians said the word "months" in relation to his recovery. Luckily, the team won't even begin offseason work at the facility until the middle of April. He should be ready then.
The other question is about young Logan Thomas. Did he show the coaching staff enough to continue to develop him? He was passed over for Ryan Lindley, the guy who was cut in the preseason to keep Thomas, when Drew Stanton went down with an injury. Arians says his future is bright, but will the Cards pass on a quarterback in the draft if one is available to keep Thomas around?
Palmer is locked in as the starter for 2015 if he is healthy. There is no real moving on from him after his contract extension. His 2015 money is guaranteed.
Stanton has one more year on his contract. Arians loves him as a backup and trusts him. he's not going anywhere, though he is due over $3 million in 2015. His cap hit is over $3.8 million. That's not the worst for an established backup, but he is Arians' guy.
Lindley is not expected to return and it is questionable whether he will get another NFL shot. A best-case scenario for him is a camp invite with Arizona, but that would seem unlikely.
Thomas was drafted as a project -- a potential franchise guy. He will be back, unless Arizona has a QB fall in their lap they like moving forward.
Don't expect Arizona to make any move at the position in free agency. They have their starter. They have a veteran backup they like and they have a QB to develop.
The NFL Draft:
Based on where the Cardinals will be drafting -- late in each round -- a QB seems unlikely early in the draft. The top prospects will be long gone. Could they draft another project? Perhaps. But they would have to like him more than Thomas, and Thomas gives Bruce Arians a lot of things to like in terms of potential.
I expect no changes on the roster at QB in 2015. 2016 could be interesting. Depending on how the season goes, they could move on from Palmer and Stanton will be a free agent. It could be Logan Thomas time, or it could be a rookie starter they draft. As for now, the team believes it has a championship window. They will lean on Palmer to lead them to the promised land.