The Cardinals will look at third-string quarterback Zac Dysert (right) this offseason, and still have backup Drew Stanton (left), but will likely seek another QB-of-the-future candidate this offseason.
If Steve Keim truly feared that Carson Palmer wouldn't be back in 2017, the general manager was able to allay that concern last week when the quarterback went to dinner with him and let him know he was indeed going to play.
That meant, at least for another season, the quarterback issue wasn't an issue.
That doesn't mean it should be ignored right now, however.
"There's no doubt every GM, there is no question your name has to be put on a young quarterback at some point," Keim said on last week's edition of the "Big Red Rage." "I challenge myself every day,
because if you look around the league, you're not a GM for long if you don't find (a quarterback). I have to do a better job, with my staff and the coaching staff, we have to identify the right guy and put this organization in positon to have success for years to come."
The Cardinals benefitted from the big 2013 trade that brought Palmer to Arizona. That was only a few months after Keim had been named the GM, at a time when the team was still trying to find a quarterback. Keim said then his philosophy was to bring in a quarterback every year in search of the next long-term answer.
Keim never said it would come in the draft specifically, and since adding Palmer and free agent Drew Stanton that first offseason, he's kept up that mindset:
2014: Drafted Logan Thomas in the fourth round.
2015: Traded for Matt Barkley.
2016: Brought in Zac Dysert after a "tryout" with Aaron Murray and then promoted Dysert from the practice squad later in the season when the Dolphins tried to sign Dysert away.
Thomas and Barkley didn't work out. Like Barkley before him, Dysert will need this offseason and training camp to show what he might be – although with time to show already in the league, his potential as a
starter isn't considered vast.
As Palmer creeps toward retirement – "At this point in my career, it's a one-year-at-a-time-type of deal," Palmer said last week after announcing he was returning for 2017 – the need to find that next guy moves toward critical status.
Keim has been around this before. He wasn't GM, but he was in the front office when Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season. The Cardinals were hopeful they had the QB of the future in Matt Leinart, but by then, there were already concerns. Leinart didn't even make it to the opening day roster.
Instead, there were stopgaps (Derek Anderson), late draft picks (John Skelton) and a big trade (Kevin Kolb). None worked, leaving the Cards to struggle until there was a GM and coaching change, and Palmer came in another important trade (although the Palmer price was significantly less than Kolb).
Taking a quarterback in the draft makes the most sense. Trading for a QB now is hard to justify for a team hoping to make a playoff run. A thin free agent class also would have to know Palmer – and Stanton, for that matter – remain in place.
But the post-Palmer time is coming.
"You start getting old like me, you start getting grey hair, your body starts telling you no," Palmer said. "At some point it will."
It didn't this offseason, but the Cardinals know they need to plan for that day.
Images of the Cardinals' star duo, who have both announced their intentions to play in 2017