The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals square off this Sunday in a matchup that can best be described as shaky at best. Injuries have cost both teams some of their best players, and the QB matchup is currently set to be C.J. Beathard vs. Drew Stanton.
The 49ers will eventually replace Beathard with Jimmy Garoppolo, but in the meantime, he gets at least one or two more starts. Arizona was hoping Carson Palmer could lead them to a playoff berth, but a broken arm has likely ended his season. Stanton gets the start in his place, with Blaine Gabbert serving as his backup.
I took a few minutes to chat with Revenge of the Birds site manager Seth Cox this week, and naturally we touched on the quarterback position. The Cardinals offense would ride on however long Palmer could last. Now that Stanton is next man up, and Gabbert is right behind him, it’s hard to see this team making a strong push for a playoff berth. And after this season, one has to wonder what their plans are for the position. Seth offered his thoughts on what to look for in 2018 and beyond.
This is the million dollar question for the Arizona Cardinals.
Earlier this week on a local radio program, General Manager Steve Keim professed his view as preferring to draft and develop a quarterback, stating the obvious benefits of their rookie contract allowing for building around the player.
Now, he's never done that, Logan Thomas is the only quarterback drafted in this regimes time, so it was an interesting comment, maybe foreshadowing to their offseason plans. Which wouldn't be a bad thing.
If you look at this as a five year plan, they'll let Drew Stanton and likely Blaine Gabbert, get their run the rest of 2017. From that they can evaluate who comes back in 2018 as the veteran backup to starter Carson Palmer. Palmer is under contract for 2018, so he's baked into their plans at this point.
If Palmer retires, the winner of the Stanton vs Gabbert 2017 quarterback off is likely to come in as the defacto starter, but the other could be back as the competition. That means, the Cardinals quarterback room for 2018 should be some form of:
This is something that should have been done in 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017, but here we are. It's understandable from the organizations standpoint, investing early in a quarterback signifies a potential change coming and when you are as “close” as the Cardinals have been trying to get a rookie contributor to put you over the top makes sense.
However, Keim was in house when Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves kept trying to get the “missing piece” to stay relevant, so you'd think that would have been in the back of his mind.
All-in-all, it'd be odd to see the Cardinals with the same three quarterbacks as the only three QBs on the roster in 2018. Maybe Gabbert pops (that's a little end of an article comedy relief for all you 49ers fans) and is the future for the Cardinals.
No matter how you slice it, the biggest question for the Cardinals this offseason is going to be, what do they do at quarterback?