With Carson Palmer’s retirement, the Arizona Cardinals now have a large hole at the most important position in professional sports: quarterback. Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert, both of whom started games for the team this past season, are both free agents. So technically, the team has exactly ZERO quarterbacks under contract for 2018.
Gabbert and/or Stanton could be re-signed, but neither one has proven that they are a long term solution at the position. I think I speak for most Cardinals fans when saying that the team desperately needs to find their long term answer through the draft, but they could still sign a veteran that becomes available as a bridge option to the younger guy.
There are a few decent options out there and I decided to take a look at the more realistic ones and rank them in order of how well they would perform for the team in helping them reach their championship goals once again.
Kirk Cousins: He will be the biggest (and most expensive) option on the market come March. There’s no doubt about it. He has shown to be a worthy veteran, but does he elevate his team to the next level a la a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers? Probably not. That’s why it will be so tough for teams to swallow the near $30 million per year pill it will take to sign him. Still, he is going to be the best option and you know what you get with him.
Teddy Bridgewater: You could easily put a couple names that will come later ahead of Teddy, especially with the injury history he has had. But a freak leg injury doesn’t take away from the substantial amount of upside Bridgewater possesses. Still 25 years old, Teddy B could wind up being that answer as QB of the future. And if the Cardinals land Pat Shurmur (whom they have requested an interview with) as head coach, Bridgewater would come in already familiar with the offense.
Case Keenum: Once a journeyman quarterback, Keenum seems to have figured it all out this season and has led the 13-3 Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs. He could be a franchise tag option for the Vikings next year (they have a lot of decisions to make at quarterback), but they won’t be able to keep everyone. Again, if the Cardinals hire Shurmur, Keenum would come in knowing the offense. The biggest question surrounding Keenum is whether or not he can sustain the success he has had, especially when on a different team and not surrounded by an elite supporting cast.
Tyrod Taylor: The Buffalo Bills are back in the playoffs and Tyrod Taylor is a big reason why. Benched earlier this season in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman, Taylor could become a cap casualty this offseason and the Bills may look to start rebuilding. Taylor would bring a mobile quarterback with a big arm to the desert, where he could find some continued success.
Alex Smith: Smith has long been rumored as someone that could come to Arizona once the Kansas City Chiefs decide to part ways with him. They drafted Patrick Mahomes in the first round for a reason and could decide to turn to him for the future as early as next season (depending on how far they get in the playoffs). Smith is definitely not a guy that is going to elevate your team to the next level, but he could be an ideal bridge guy that gets you a few wins along the way.
A.J. McCarron: McCarron comes in dead last on my list because of one thing: uncertainty. He could have Kevin Kolb 2.0 written all over him. Then again, he could be the next best thing. Either way, there is just too much uncertainty surrounding him. If McCarron is designated as a restricted free agent this spring (a designation he is currently battling with the NFLPA), not only would it cost a pick to get him, but a boat load of cash as well. He is somebody I would probably steer clear of and let the Browns take a run at him instead.
What do you think, Birdgang? Who are your top veteran quarterback options for the Cardinals in 2018?