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The Arizona Cardinals need to keep three quarterbacks

The injuries that hit the Cards may cause damage long-term for the team.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This past Thursday Bruce Arians went on record and stated that there was a real possibility the Cardinals keep only two quarterbacks. The impetus comes from the astronomical rash of injuries on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Which is a legitimate concern since since injuries and other issues have caused Earl Watford, Bobby Massie, Mike Iupati, Rob Crisp, Corey Peters, Ed Stinson, Xavier Williams all to miss time during training camp and some going into the season.

The Cardinals must maintain enough depth to field a competitive offensive and defensive line. And yes, there need to be cuts made in order to keep more lineman.

However, to make those cuts at the quarterback position would be a short-sighted move.

If there is one value Bruce Arians holds more than most football coaches, it's versatility. That's why he has Earl Watford, a guard, in a battle against Bradley Sowell for right tackle. It's why he is had D.J. Humphries play at left tackle this week. It's why he has two players on the roster, A.Q. Shipley and Ted Larsen whose official positions are C/G.

This extends to the defense. Deone Bucannon plays linebacker and safety. Mathieu has played slot corner and safety. Kareem Martin just made the move from DE to OLB and Matt Shaughnessy vice versa. It's an organizational virtue.

POP QUIZ! What is the one position where versatility isn't useful? That's right!


Take a moment and let that idea fester.

Quarterbacks are not supposed to be versatile. The amount of vitriol thrown at guys like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III for not being passers first is incredible. And some of those criticisms are valid.

The truth of the matter is that the quarterback position is unique on the football field. That uniqueness has always been apparent. It's why the position has become the most powerful and well rewarded in football. Teams are unable to plug just any old player into the position. If that weren't true the Browns would have stopped being punished for firing the evil sorcerer known as Bill Belicheck.

Yet, here is Bruce Arians and by extension, Steve Keim, saying that they are willing to cut both Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims. Neither is ready to be a starter, but that line of thinking means all backup quarterbacks in the NFL aren't worth keeping.

There was a qualification by Arians that one of those QBs could then be kept on the practice squad. Meanwhile, Jess in an article on Friday made a great point that neither is likely to be picked up by another NFL team.

The problem is that the team will be running the risk of eerily repeating history from just one year ago.

In 2014, the Cards kept three quarterbacks. However, only two were actually prepared to play. Palmer and Stanton both went down to injuries and the team was in a bind. Logan Thomas has always been a player who needs to be developed over time.

He had neither the skill set, nor the knowledge of the offense to properly lead the offense. Keep in mind it took nearly a year of starter for the Cardinals to play offense well.

So, the team brought in Ryan Lindley because he had experience in the system. It was a huge failure. Now, the team is looking to do repeat the mistake. They thinking about keeping two quarterbacks coming off injuries who are over 30 years old.

The team needs to keep at least three quarterbacks so they may at least have some control over a young guy they believe can develop into at least a backup. If they want, keep four and put the last on the practice squad. Neither one has to be Logan Thomas or Phillip Sims, there must be at least one player who will be cut that Steve Keim likes enough to take a calculated risk on.

This idea is not something that would payoff in the 2015 season, but we (as Cardinals fans) have already suffered under a good quarterback leave with no one in place to succeed him as a stopgap. That very situation was a major factor in Whisenhunt getting fired.

Truthfully, I believe the team intends to keep three quarterbacks on the roster and possibly one on the practice squad. The entire answer may have just been another ploy of the Arians to turn the heat up on Thomas and Sims as they battle for the third spot. Or the team will pick up a third during the season when one they like becomes available.

However, I also know that while the entire Cardinals staff has forgotten more football knowledge than I will ever know, they are not perfect and will make mistakes. The team needs to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

And the worst case scenario is a repeat of 2014's quarterback situation.