This current offseason is an important one for second year quarterback Logan Thomas. Carson Palmer is coming off ACL surgery. Drew Stanton is coming off his own knee injury. That means Thomas will get a lot of reps in workouts, OTAs and mini-camp.
Bruce Arians said Thomas would get "tons" of reps. He will get almost all the reps on the second field during OTAs when the coaching staff has the main field running the first and second team players and a second field for the rest. He will also get some reps on the first field, depending on how much they let Palmer and Stanton work.
And this offseason is not so much about Thomas becoming a starter...at least not yet.
Arians told media members during the owners meetings Thomas was drafted last year "for two years from now, not November." But this offseason is crucial.
Drew Stanton will be a free agent after this season. If you notice the contracts QBs like Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer and other journeyman quarterbacks are getting, you can bank on Stanton getting a good deal and a shot at a starting job.
Thomas needs to be ready to take over that number two spot.
Carson Palmer is the Cardinals' man in 2015. After his contract restructure, he has to be the guy in 2016, too. By restructuring his contract, his salary cap hit in 2016 will be more than $17 million, but over $13 million in dead money. The team clearly expects him to be back in 2016 and be the starting quarterback.
Thomas needs to show this offseason and during the regular season practice that he has developed enough to be able to come in and finish a game or get a spot start and not have things fall apart. Doing so would be a huge benefit for Arizona in terms of money.
Veteran backup QBs aren't cheap, at least the ones worth having. Thomas is entering the second year of his four-year rookie contract that will pay him $510,000 this season, $600,000 in 2016 and $690,000 in 2017. If Thomas proves he can be next year's backup, he will allow the team to spend money elsewhere.
The 2016 offseason then becomes whether Thomas can prove he can take over for Palmer when the season is over. Palmer will start, Thomas will be the backup and the team will add a player.
If the plan for Thomas all along was to see if he could be a starter in 2017, then he needs to have developed enough to replace Stanton. That is what this offseason is about. Can he handle the offense? Does he have the mental approach to come in cold in a game and take the reins without things falling apart?
Steve Keim and Bruce Arians believe Thomas might be able to become a franchise quarterback. They knew it wouldn't be right away. But he has to take some steps forward this offseason or he will find himself in the same spot Ryan Lindley found himself in last offseason -- the team having drafted a guy to develop at quarterback who will ultimately take his roster spot.
This year is about replacing Drew Stanton, not Carson Palmer.