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Arizona Cardinals take a big tumble in ESPN’s future rankings

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The Cardinals drop big time from 2016, one bad season brings questions for the future.

NFL: 2017 NFL Draft Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There's one thing for certain, Arizona Cardinals fans are much more excited about the Cardinals future than outsiders are.

In fact, on ESPN and their futures rankings, the Arizona Cardinals future looks bleak as ESPN has the Cardinals ranked 22nd for their three year outlook:

It seems at least plausible that the Cardinals could undergo a major shift following the 2017 season. Carson Palmer will be a free agent and there's no succession plan presently in place. Larry Fitzgerald also enters the final year of his contract. Their importance to the franchise -- Fitzgerald is perhaps the greatest player in its history -- cannot be overlooked. -- Field Yates

This is quite the departure for ESPN, as the Cardinals have been fairly respected since Steve Keim and company took over:

2014: 16th
2015: 11th
2016: 7th

However, the ranking is not a surprise when the questions is about the next three years.

Biggest worry: Field mentioned it, but Palmer turns 38 in December and the Cardinals still don't have his presumed replacement on the roster. Every hit Carson takes could be his last, and he took a beating in 2016, getting sacked 40 times and hit countless others. The Cardinals' decision-making team should be worried sick about the future of the QB position in the short and long term. -- Louis Riddick

This is a legitimate issue for 2018-2020. No one, including the decision makers know who is going to be at the helm in 2019 and 2020. And that all assumes that Palmer is behind center in 2018, which is no sure thing.

However, it is not all doom and gloom:

What could change for the better: The longer-term coaching outlook could improve if Bruce Arians' health issues subside. It has been speculated in the league and media over the past couple seasons that Arians might be forced to walk away, but what if that is not the case? At age 64, there is still a chance Arians could provide some solid seasons if his health stabilizes. -- Mike Sando

With Steve Keim and Bruce Arians, they have turned over a franchise and roster before. If Arians is on board, another turnover in 2018/19 could set him up for a run into his 70’s where the Arizona Cardinals are perennial contenders. That's all Arizona Cardinals fans can ask for.