Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim, speaking at Steve Wilks' introductory press conference Tuesday, said on the subject of QB, "the better quarterback we find, the better coach he's going to be."
The day after Bruce Arians retired, so did Carson Palmer.
Steve Wilks was finally hired to be Arians' replacement Monday. Finding Palmer's replacement will not come as swiftly as the last quarterback move, and likely will be more complicated.
"There's a question mark right now, we all know," Wilks said. "It's the elephant in the room. We don't have a quarterback."
The same could be said when Bruce Arians was hired in 2013, although it was figurative then – the Cardinals at the time did have a handful of QBs to choose from. This time, it is the literal truth, given that the team has zero quarterbacks under contract once the new league begins in mid-March.
That can change, of course, if the Cardinals choose to extend Drew Stanton or Blaine Gabbert or Matt
Barkley before then. There could be a very different direction, with Wilks and Keim already having significant discussions about a plan of action.
"We're going to have a very active and aggressive plan through free agency, and we'll see exactly what's going to happen within the draft," Wilks said, emphasizing the Cardinals were going to compete and not rebuild in 2018.
That does not sound like a coach expecting to play a rookie right away. Competing (usually) means a solid quarterback must be in place.
"The old adage about 'Jimmys and Joes versus X's and O's' certainly exists," Keim said. "We did talk about the quarterback situation with every candidate. We looked at it as a positive. As (team president) Michael (Bidwill) and I talked to the candidates, you really have a blank canvas and you have the ability to be a part of setting us up for the future at that position -- not only from a schematic standpoint, but from a personality standpoint."
There are positives in coming in at the same time as a quarterback, be it a draft pick or a veteran. Arians had that with both Palmer and Stanton. When Ken Whisenhunt arrived, Matt Leinart was only a
year removed from being a top-10 pick and that was whom Whisenhunt and the organization would hope blossom – but the relationship between the two never flourished, and the Cardinals were fortunate to have Kurt Warner available instead.
When Arians first was named, no one would've guessed Palmer was an option. When Stanton signed as a free agent, he was expected to be the starter. The process of figuring out the 2018 quarterback depth chart still has a few months to go.
"There's going to be a number of different options, whether it's free agency, whether it's a trade option, or it's the draft, or all three," Keim said.
Keim didn't think Wilks' background as a defensive coach would hinder the Cardinals' quarterback situation or the opportunity to groom a young player who might be drafted. A defensive coach actually could help quarterbacks in teaching what the other side of the ball might be doing to him – and besides, a QB will spend more time with his position coach and the offensive coordinator.
Those two assistant positions are crucial to a quarterback, Keim acknowledged, but "when you are a leader like (Wilks) is, his message will be sent to the quarterback."
Wilks is in the process of figuring out who will staff those coaching spots. That too will come long before anyone knows who the quarterbacks will be, and what shape the offense might take this season.
"The better quarterback we find, the better coach (Wilks) is going to be," Keim said.
Images of Cardinals cheerleader Nikki, who is off to Orlando for this week's Pro Bowl festivities