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Still Starting, Blaine Gabbert Could In 2018 Too

Posted Nov 27, 2017

Arians can see a scenario where quarterback remains in lineup next season

Not only is Blaine Gabbert staying at quarterback right now for the Cardinals, Bruce Arians said he'd be comfortable with Gabbert as 2018 starter if Carson Palmer isn't around.

Blaine Gabbert earned praise from both coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim Monday, a day after earning his first win as a Cardinals’ quarterback.

He is remaining the Cardinals’ starter, to no one’s surprise.

“We’re sticking with Blaine right now,” Arians said, adding that Drew Stanton will be the backup.

The question is beginning to morph not about Gabbert’s spot the rest of this season but next, for a team that has long-term quarterback issues. Arians answered one the best he could Monday, when asked how confident he would be with Gabbert as the 2018 starter should Carson Palmer decide to retire.

“The way he’s playing right now I’d be very, very comfortable,” Arians said.

Could Arians see it happening? “Oh yeah, I think it’s a possibility,” Arians added.

Palmer is the only Cardinals quarterback of the five with the team that is under contract for 2018, set to make $14 million in salary and a roster bonus and a cap hit of more than $20M. Both Gabbert and Stanton will be free agents (Matt Barkley and practice squad member Mike Bercovici also will have expiring contracts.)

Palmer recently said he wasn’t thinking of next season.

“I’ll have a chance to think about what is next as far as 2018 and all that once we get through this year,” Palmer said.

Gabbert too punted a question about his future following Sunday’s 27-24 win over his former team, the Jaguars. In his two starts the Cardinals have gone 1-1, with Gabbert completing 56 percent of his passes for 498 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He became only the second quarterback this season to throw for more than one touchdown against the Jaguars’ top-rated defense.

“I just try to go out there and put my best foot forward,” Gabbert said. “Bring a little energy, bring a little juice to this football team. Like I said, just take it one play at a time and have fun doing it because this job is too hard not to have fun.”

Regardless of who might be atop the depth chart in the 2018 offseason, the Cardinals are expected to strongly consider drafting a quarterback in the early rounds. If the right guy is drafted, whoever is the 2018 starter would likely be only a bridge until the draftee is ready.

But Arians – who also will likely ponder his future this offseason – clearly likes what he has seen from Gabbert. He raved about the 52-yard touchdown bomb, a throw “only a few guys can make” after Gabbert somehow leaned forward as defensive end Calais Campbell closed in and threw deep without even using his whole body.

Tweaks are needed. Arians smiled when noting the Cardinals have to work on their scramble drills, saying the pass catchers need to get better getting open when a play breaks down and Gabbert is on the move – something less needed when Palmer or Stanton is playing. Gabbert also needs to protect the ball better when scrambling, Arians said, after his lost fumble Sunday.

But Gabbert is among the smartest quarterbacks Arians has been around when it comes to learning the system. Given Gabbert’s spin cycle through offensive systems over the years (this is his seventh in seven years), with a second year in 2018 in this playbook “he can blossom,” Arians said.

“The top two guys go down, we’re very blessed to have him,” Arians said. “He’s taking the bull by the horns, showing us, ‘I’m a player. I can play at this level.’ ”

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