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Predicting the NFL QB Carousel and where it lands

A look at where the quarterbacks could end up this offseason.

Divisional Round - New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With free agency approaching, the Cardinals must look at what quarterbacks could be around when the Cards open for business. Many will point at the salary cap of $20 million and say they can’t afford the top-tier quarterbacks. This is ultimately true, unless you are willing to restructure and/or release some players from the current roster.

Guys like Jared Veldheer (natural left tackle), Mike Iupati (injured most of the time), Deone Bucannon (overpaid currently), and Phil Dawson (shanker) are subject to such rumors. If you use the post June-1st cut designation, Mike Iupati is due only $1.7M as a cap casualty, and that makes this a very viable option (savings of $8M). Shoot, I still think teams are going to be willing to absorb Iupati’s contract, so I’m not ruling a trade out of the discussion.

Releasing every one of these guys gives them wiggle room, the kind of room that you could potentially afford guys.

Kirk Cousins:

Expected to make between $26M-$30M per year, most don’t expect him to make it to the Cardinals. A lot of rumors have placed the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets as favorites to win this race. I think that if you are willing to set up a recruiting plan, Cousins is ‘win-able’ for the Cardinals.

The Cardinals could offer a chance to win the Super Bowl, but that’s what the Vikings offer an even better chance.

What they cannot offer is a solid offensive line, as it seems to be in a state of flux. Would Kirk be willing to look past the most scrutinized O-line? Probably not for the price tag they would be able to offer.

Expected: $28,000,000 per year with Minnesota Vikings

Drew Brees:

Brees versus Cousins, I’m going Brees, and it’s not close for me. I know, for a fact, that Brees is the most deserving quarterback in the market. I want Brees, but for how much? How much are the Saints offering, and if they are offering a good amount, would Brees want to see what’s on the open market?

If you think that Brees is going to play for the Cardinals (the roster is probably not as good as the Saints currently), then I choose to ignore your notion. What aspect can we attack from? That we have a better team? Not currently. We can offer more? Nope. Ask the Browns how much space they have to offer Brees. Shoot, they could offer Brees $50M next year and still be fine. It’s just not realistic to think the Cardinals will get Brees. This scenario could still happen, but I give us about a 1% chance of landing Brees.

No, I think that Drew Brees will finish out his career with the Saints, but like Aerosmith always said: Dream On.

Expected: $24,000,000 per year with New Orleans Saints

A.J. McCarron:

Right before the trade deadline, the Browns and Bengals tried hammering a deal that would send McCarron to the Browns. That deal never went through, so I began wondering if this could be a good thing for the Cardinals. McCarron was a career backup who started four games in the stead of Andy Dalton. Did he outperform Dalton? Not especially.

86 completions, 133 attempts, 64.7%, 920 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions

This looks great on paper, but a lot must be evaluated in sample sizes. For the type of contract, I’m anticipating for McCarron, I don’t think it would be smart to spend that kind of money on four games of tape. Should the Cardinals take a chance? Look, McCarron is 28 years old in September, and I expect that the Cardinals would at the very least get McCarron in a room to see if he could pass the eyeball test of a franchise signal caller.

If by chance the Browns mess up the chance to sign A.J., and in the event that Drew Brees wants to leave New Orleans, I think that the Saints would go as hard as possible after McCarron before the Cardinals did. What I expect him to make is different then what I would offer, which is probably around $14M per year.

Expected: $22,000,000 per year with Cleveland Browns

Case Keenum:

Short journeymen typically don’t get the type of opportunity that is currently in front of Keenum. He went from ‘spot starter’ to a franchise savior for Minnesota. Now, he’s about to really earn a big contract, and I believe he deserves it.

Here’s the issue, there is no way that the Cardinals should view Keenum as anything other than a bridge quarterback for the future quarterback the Cardinals should be selecting in this year’s draft. My question is what is a bridge QB worth to the Cardinals? Does Keenum view himself as a starting franchise signal-caller, or is he coming into this free agency with tempered expectations?

My thoughts are that this will be the first (and probably last) big contract that Keenum will receive. Here’s the biggest hypothetical: If Keenum can remain humble through this and can mentor a young quarterback (trade up for Mayfield?), then Keenum becomes a great option. But it must be win-win for both parties.

Expected: $20,000,000 per year with Denver Broncos

Sam Bradford:

Whether Sam Bradford likes to admit or not, his window as a franchise quarterback is probably over. He is still serviceable as a quarterback when healthy, but can Sam Bradford stay healthy? There’s a difference between being able to garner a big-time contract and dreaming of a big-time contract.

Realistically, Bradford is still going to have a market, and that’s undeniable for the Cardinals. Paying him a reasonable amount would be the Cardinals best option of swaying the once first overall selection, but how much is too much for a typically oft-injured QB? Reasonably, the Cardinals could give something to Bradford he long desires: a one-year deal with a good team to boost his stock in 2019.

Many, many teams are going to look at Bradford, but if I’m the Cardinals, I don’t make his contract fully guaranteed. There needs to be an injury protection clause for the team. Would Bradford be willing to sign such a deal?

Expected: $18,000,000 per year with New York Jets

Teddy Bridgewater:

The potential of Teddy Bridgewater is tremendous, when he was a starter for the Vikings, he displayed an ability to run and throw like a quarterback you’d want on your team, but injuries slowed Bridgewater down. I mean seriously, Bridgewater almost lost a leg, that’s as serious of an injury as any. He came back this year to be the backup to Keenum and showed that he was still able to run.

Some have compared Bridgewater to Mike Glennon of last year, as he could be a bridge quarterback, but does Bridgewater understand his value? If he knows how to play the market, Teddy is probably going to make a pretty penny, and the Cardinals will need to evaluate his price tag.

I still believe that Bridgewater will receive some attention from some other teams that have cap, but would prefer he be the backup this year to develop Teddy into a system.

Expected: $17,000,000 per year with Los Angeles Chargers

Now, here are some options for the Cardinals for trades, I hope you enjoy.

Ryan Tannehill:

To pry the Dolphins from Tannehill, the Cardinals would have to offer probably something they don’t want to offer. I think the Dolphins are needy for quality offensive lineman, so Jared Veldheer could see his jersey switch. Here’s how I view a potential trade:

Miami Dolphins receives:
47th Overall Selection
2019 2nd Round Selection
Jared Veldheer - Offensive Tackle

Arizona Cardinals receives:
Ryan Tannehill - Quarterback
2019 6th Round Selection

The reasoning for the Dolphins trading Tannehill would probably be because they think they have a chance at the top-4 QBs of the draft. The Dolphins could, in turn, trade the assets it has acquired from the Cardinals, and turn it into a top-5 pick. I would do that if I was the Dolphins, but the Dolphins need someone for Adam Gase to handcraft. My pick for Gase: Josh Allen of Wyoming.

Nick Foles:

Editor’s Note: I don’t think John’s compensation is in the ballpark, but this is his show, we’re all along for the ride.

This is an easier trade scenario for the Cardinals, as the buying price for a Super Bowl-winning quarterback couldn’t be any higher for Philadelphia. This is the most realistic trade option for any quarterback, but it’s got to do more with how much the Cardinals are willing to give up for a U of A grad.

Philadelphia Eagles receives:
47th Overall Selection
Adrian Peterson - Running Back

Arizona Cardinals receives:
Nick Foles - Quarterback
Mychal Kendricks - Inside Linebacker

For the Cardinals to be able to take on Nick Foles, the Cards have to be able to take on some salary, and in turn, would be able to give less draft capital. Only giving up a 47th pick for Foles is a win for the Cardinals. Giving up the non-guaranteed contract of Adrian Peterson, and trading for essentially $12M in Foles and Mychal Kendricks could set the Cards back. Oh, and don’t forget that Foles is needing a contract extension.

Anyways, I’ll have more prospect profiles up, I hope you enjoyed the read