As stated several times already, the Cardinals have numerous areas to improve on this offseason but nothing is more important that the quarterback position. While Arizona’s play was underwhelming to say the least, the presence of a competent signal caller could have led to a third straight NFC West title, given the struggles incurred throughout the division.
Now, with names such as Marc Bulger, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb being thrown around, what will the Cardinals do?
Signing any of the three QBs above would certainly be an upgrade over 2010’s quarterback group, but that isn’t saying much. Even if Arizona tried to enter next season with a worse situation under center, it probably couldn’t.
Bulger continues to draw comparisons to Kurt Warner but there’s little chance Bulger would have the same impact Warner did. Sure, there are lots of similarities – both spend time with the Rams, both were in need of a career resurgence and both previously had success in the NFL – but the idea of Bulger returning as a starter in the league is more of a long shot. Bulger didn’t throw a pass in 2010 and since 2006 hasn’t accumulated a QB rating of over 71.4. At this point, Bulger shouldn’t be counted on to turn things around.
Meanwhile, the McNabb subject has been covered countless times but his name is always brought up in the desert. McNabb has experienced a solid career but he was bounced from Philadelphia and lost his starting job in Washington. McNabb’s skill-set is diminishing and he’s coming off a season in which he tossed more interceptions than touchdowns (14 TDs, 15 INTs). Again, while it would be an upgrade from last season, McNabb’s potential arrival as the new starter isn’t much to get excited about.
Palmer continues to the trend of once prominent quarterbacks who aren’t the players they used to be. Palmer once possessed a golden arm. He won the Heisman Trophy in the college ranks and burst on the scene in the NFL over his first handful of seasons. However, Palmer hasn’t been the same following a shoulder injury and his play of late has been inconsistent to say the least. Palmer has thrown 20 interceptions in two of the past four years and has failed to surpass a QB rating of 85 since 2007.
The lesson learned here is that the quarterback situation in Arizona could once again be unsettled heading into the 2011 campaign. Other names such as Kevin Kolb, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn are also out there but their availability is uncertain. A young quarterback to grow into coach Ken Whisenhunt’s offensive system would be preferred but appears unlikely. Selecting Blaine Gabbert with the No. 5 pick in the draft would be a mistake as would giving up too much in return for Kolb, Orton or Flynn.
That said, unless John Skelton or Richard Bartel progress by leaps and bounds in the coming months, Bulger, Palmer or McNabb might end up being the best options available. With the NFC West on the verge of coming back to respectability, that could lead to another unpleasant outcome for the Cardinals in 2011.