Cardinals Keep Quarterback Options Wide Open

If you’ve been an Arizona Cardinals fan the last few months, you’ve been well aware that the organization has been linked to just about every available quarterback on the market. After passing up on prospects such as Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker, the options remain wide open. Here is a breakdown of each choice and what it would mean to the team

Kevin Kolb: A or C (depending on asking price)
If the Cardinals are going to trade for the most coveted prospect this year, they seem to be going to have to give up a lot. The eagles supposedly asking for a first round pick, and the most likely package looks like a first rounder and a young star player. This would likely come in the form of Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie (Which most fans seem to be against), or Beanie Wells (Who is expendable after the pick the Cardinals spent on RB Ryan Williams in the draft). Supposedly, the Cardinals had an agreement in place before the draft, but the lockout remained in place and the deal didn’t go through. Either way, however, it seems like way too much to ask for a guy who hasn’t proven anything. He definitely has the tools but his ability at this point is an unknown quantity. The Cardinals could end up giving what amounts to two first round picks for a guy who could very well be a bust. On the other side, WR Larry Fitzgerald seems to want Kolb here, and his arrival could keep Fitz in AZ for the next few years. Recently, I’ve also heard the Cardinals paying two future second rounders, which doesn’t seem to be to bad. Only time will tell on this untested pricey prospect who might be the future of the franchise.

Marc Bulger: A-
An extremely accurate veteran QB from St. Louis who had former success but has hit hard times in his playing career. Sound familiar? The comparisons to Kurt Warner might be why the Cardinals are so high on him. Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt wanted the club to sign him last year and so this is his second chance to get his guy. The bonus with him is that we know he is (or at some point was) capable of playing playoff caliber football and that he is a free agent. Obtaining him wouldn’t cost anything more than how many zeroes were on his contract. He might be slightly overvalued but compared to Kolb, who is asking for a monster deal as soon as he is traded, isn’t that big of a deal. Bulger seems to be the most likely option because he offers way less of a risk at slightly less of a reward. He is an ideal fit for the offense. I have only one question left: If Bulger can emulate Warner and lead the Cards back to relevancy, does that mean that the Cardinals will decide to only get their quarterbacks off of Rams castoffs?

Carson Palmer: B+
Carson Palmer is a player who may or may not be available depending on how the Bengals plan to deal with their disgruntled QB. Palmer has played well in the past but he has been on a bit of a decline recently, and most people are starting to think that he is past his prime. He will be available for much less of a price than Kolb mainly because his ceiling isn’t quite so high, as well as because the Bengals have to get rid of him. This could drive his value down to a second or third rounder but it looks like the Bengals are intent on letting him retire out of spite. At the end of the day, I think Palmer returns once he realizes that the Bengals are never going to let him go, especially when he sees how good AJ Green is. But he would be a good fit for AZ and most people would be content with the idea of Palmer being the next QB. I do have my doubts with him being a USC grad and the memory of Matt Leinart busting his way out of the organization but that’s just me.

Matt Hasselback: B-
The Cardinals have reiterated that they want a veteran to run the offense, and Hasselback fits that criterion. It would also be pretty sweet to rub it in the Seahawks fan’s faces two times a year. He seems to have a little bit left in the tank and he wouldn’t be a bad choice, but I do seriously doubt that the Seahawks are going to let him go like that. They will pay whatever they need to if it appears he’s headed for Arizona. You just don’t let your division rivals snap up the face of your franchise. He does look to be headed for retirement in a few years so he doesn’t seem like a good option here, as they need somebody who can play well this year, as well as for a few years down the road. Look for him to lead the Seahawks to a…spectacularly average season yet again (insane once in a lifetime playoff magic last year aside).

Donovan McNabb: C +
I include him here only because he is friends with Fitzgerald and has been attending player run camps filled with Cardinal players here in Arizona. Regardless, for some reason, this seems to be to only quarterback that the Cardinals are adamantly not interested in. So that makes him an unlikely guy. His play has been declining and it’s only a matter of time before he retires.

Kyle Orton: C
The nice thing about Orton is that he could come at a very good trade value. John Elway has already named Tebow his starter (more or less) and that means he has effectively devalued Orton. It still remains unlikely but Orton is their fall back guy. He is a solid player who doesn’t do anything special, and not a bad backup plan.

John Skelton: D+
He’s the closest thing the Cardinals have to a starter right now and he does have potential. He possesses a sweet arm and has solid leadership skills. The organization also does not seem ready to write him off just yet, promising him the chance to compete for the starting job regardless of who they bring in. He is a developmental prospect who could start in a few years down the road. But, if the Cardinals can’t get anyone through free agency or trade, there is a silver lining. Either Skelton has a break out year as the new face of the franchise, or he sucks, and the Cardinals solve their QB quandary through the draft with Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley.

For future consideration: 2012 Draft pick
Now obviously next year’s draft won’t help this year’s quarterback situation, but it is likely that 2012 is when the Cardinals will look for their next franchise player. Next year’s draft will be loaded. See my preview for the QB position here. To summarize, there are a ton of studs which will by first round picks because they are just that talented Expect the Cardinals to use a pick on a QB unless they get Kolb this year. And with so many awesome players, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a stop gap in Bulger or Palmer and let the new guy transition in a few years. The best case scenario would be to draft a star QB and groom him for a year or two behind a veteran leader.

The Bottom Line
Most likely- Marc Bulger
Best Upside- Kevin Kolb
Least Likely- (Tie) Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselback
Gut Feeling- Kevin Kolb, only because of his ties to Larry Fitzgerald and how desperately the Cardinals want to keep their franchise player. Otherwise it will be Bulger.