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As Palmer Leaves, Cardinals In Search Of QB

Retirement means team doesn't have any signal-callers under contract for 2018


The Cardinals have been stable at quarterback the past five seasons with Carson Palmer (left) and Drew Stanton.

The cupboard is not bare for the 2018 Cardinals.

The defense played extremely well down the stretch and most of the key pieces will return. The offense will gladly welcome back superstar running back David Johnson and standout left tackle D.J. Humphries from injury.

But the roster has a glaring hole after Carson Palmer announced his retirement on Tuesday afternoon. As of now, the team doesn't have a quarterback under contract for next season.

General Manager Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill will spend the near future choosing a coach to replace the retired Bruce Arians. After that, all eyes will be on the quarterback position.

"Having your next franchise quarterback is no different from finding the next head coach and that's going through the process, like Michael talked about, being true to it, and at the end of the day, you usually know in your heart who the guy is," Keim said. "The biggest thing is that we just have to make sure we aggressively approach it and take that on."

The Cardinals will have options. The free agent quarterback class is stronger than most years, with Kirk Cousins, Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum and Sam Bradford among the bigger names possibly hitting the open market. There is speculation that Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor could also come available.

Palmer's retirement clears up $14 million of salary cap space, so Keim could be aggressive in free agency if he prefers a veteran. The Cardinals could also attempt to re-sign one or more of their prospective free agents at the position: Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley.

The Cardinals will also look hard at the draft. They have the No. 15 overall pick and could choose a quarterback early. Some of the top names that may be eligible include USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Louisville's Lamar Jackson.

"I would much rather draft and develop if you had your way," Keim said in late-October on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station. "Especially a young one that you believed in because you can grow with him. It not only helps you as a team but from a salary cap structure. You're paying a guy minimal money and you can build a team around him."

The draft would be ideal, but free agency comes first, so the Cardinals may choose to strike if there is a player they like.

Arians preferred a pocket passer with a strong arm for his vertical system. Now that the Cardinals will have a new coach, it's unclear if they will have a predilection for a certain type of quarterback.

The choices of coach and signal-caller are critical ones for the Cardinals. Keim hit on both with the pairing of Arians and Palmer in 2013. If he can do so again, this run of sustained success figures to continue.

"Five years ago we started with no head coach and no quarterback and I feel like that ended up pretty good," Keim said. "I think that's the way we need to approach this, this time around."

Images of the team's quarterback of the past five seasons

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