Finding a quarterback is the hardest part of any NFL coach or evaluators job.
To find a franchise quarterback is a combination of luck and continued searching, unless you are the Green Bay Packers.
That is where the Arizona Cardinals are right now. They have found their franchise quarterback in Carson Palmer, they are searching for their version of Aaron Rodgers though.
Except they really are not searching for their Aaron Rodgers, instead they are searching for their Matt Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck was a sixth round draft pick for the Green Bay Packers in 1998. They traded him in 2001 to the Seahawks, moving on from a quarterback they had been developing.
Therein lies the rub.
When you develop a quarterback you do so with the idea of what he will become to your team. Is he the long term answer? Is he the short term bridge? Is he the guy that makes you comfortable if anything happens to your starter?
For the Packers, Hasselbeck was a vehicle to enhance a team with an entrenched starter. Favre was 32 and they were able to trade Hasselbeck with their 17th overall for the 10th overall pick and a third round pick. For the record, Seattle got the better end of the deal, since they got a very good quarterback and Steve Hutchinson at the 17th pick.
When you develop a quarterback that can be a future starter, you typically have to make a decision: Do you move on from your known starter or do you let your little bird fly away? In most cases, unless you have invested an early round pick, you move on from the developmental quarterback, see Taylor, Tyrod.
Bringing this back to Arizona, they have tried to find a quarterback that fits one of those avenues: Short term, long term, or back up, and have failed.
Why though? Well it starts with what they are looking for. They are not looking for a short term answer, they believe they have that in Drew Stanton.
That means they either need a long term answer to replace Carson Palmer or a developmental back up that can overtake Drew Stanton.
Here's where it gets interesting. The Cardinals have not tried to invest in long term quarterback solution post Palmer. They don't feel like they need to right now or the players they liked, Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota, and Carson Wentz were far and away out of reach.
That means their efforts have been focused on finding a quarterback that can be developed into something. I personally think that something they've been looking for is a young back up who they can give a short term shot to once Palmer decides he is done, if you think it's something else, that's your call.
What has been the basis of the evaluation, at least so far, is one full regular season and one training camp. How much growth do you show in that time?
Ryan Lindley even got live game action to show he had no developmental abilities.
Logan Thomas got two training camps and one regular season to not grow.
Matt Barkley got his regular season and training camp to show he was the answer, he was not.
You can say Barkley showed more than a Drew Stanton, but here's the reality, he did not instill the same confidence in the coaching staff as Stanton does.
Despite his platry statistical success, Stanton is 5-3 as a starter in Arizona.
Quarterback wins may seem like a joke to many, but one talent evaluator that I spoke with about the Winston vs Mariota debate said something that has always stuck with me: "Jameis lost one game in college, give me the winner."
That's not to say wins mean everything in an evaluation, but if physical talents are similar, you take the player that understands how to win games.
Everyone that comes in to compete against Drew Stanton is doing so against the 2014 iteration of Stanton. He's done it before, he's won, he understands what Bruce Arians wants in his quarterback and what he needs from them.
There's no quarterback competition, that has been a false narrative, the question is whether or not one of these young quarterbacks can take over for Drew Stanton.
If they can't beat out Drew Stanton, what chance do they have in taking over for Carson Palmer?
If within a calendar year a quarterback can't grasp the concepts of Bruce Arians offense, a knock against Thomas and Barkley, or physically cannot make the plays needed, all three quarterbacks, then what more needs to be evaluated?
How much time is needed to know formations and sending receivers in motion?
If you can't figure that part out, then nothing else matters.
Now, it's Aaron Murray and Zac Dysert's turn to see if they can takeover for Drew Stanton in 2017. We'll see how long that last.