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at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 14, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.
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Cardinals have to find answer at quarterback

Cardinals have to find answer at quarterback

The Arizona Cardinals are in a very tough spot. Arizona, coming off a second consecutive year of missing the playoffs, has to figure out which direction it wants to go.

Should the Cardinals rebuild for a few years and bulk up for the future, or should they attempt to make a run before the decade ends? There is merit to both schools of thought.

Arizona is seeing a massive turnover in the building with the retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer. Arians has already been replaced by Steve Wilks, who comes over after serving as defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers. Now, general manager Steve Keim is tasked with finding Palmer’s replacement.

The Cardinals don’t have any quarterbacks on the roster, with Palmer retiring and both Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert hitting free agency. Arizona holds the 15th-overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, likely too far back to land Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, the consensus top four signal-callers in the rookie class.

While one of them could theoretically fall over the next few months, Keim has to be prepared to spend in free agency on the many options hitting the market. The crown jewel is Kirk Cousins, but with only $22 million in projected cap space, the Cardinals would have to get creative. However, that money would go a long way toward securing a stopgap-type, maybe Sam Bradford, Case Keenum or even Tyrod Taylor, who has upside as a long-term starter.

To that end, Keim is well-aware he has to be open to all scenarios, something he spoke about recently during a radio interview. Per NFL.com:

“You have to have Plan A, B, C and D,” Keim said Friday on 98.7, Arizona’s Sports Station. “Whether that is a, addressing it with a free-agent quarterback; b, trade option; c, draft; or all of the above. … But at the end of the day you can’t get caught on ‘A’ because there are factors that go into decisions by a free-agent quarterback [or] any trade process that you can’t put your finger on.

“We just have to be prepared to move on to No. 2 or No. 3 and we can’t get caught flat-footed if the first opportunity doesn’t pan out.”

Keim is being wise about the situation, understanding that this offseason could very well define his tenure in the desert. The Cardinals have not been back to the postseason since going to the NFC Championship Game in 2015, but the pieces of a contender remain. Larry Fitzgerald is still elite, Davi Johnson is returning and the defense has pillars in Chandler Jones, Markus Golden, Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson.

If Keim can find the right answer at quarterback, the Cardinals are not far away from being a real threat in the NFC.

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