New quarterback Drew Stanton meets with the media Wednesday.
Drew Stanton ended up in the one place he wanted to be.
From the start of free agency, the former Indianapolis Colts quarterback gave his agent explicit instructions: If the Arizona Cardinals come calling, pick up the phone.
The Cardinals called. The agent answered. Stanton listened. The result was a bottleneck at quarterback for the Cardinals. Stanton signed a three-year contract Wednesday, reuniting him with his former head coach, Bruce Arians, and former Michigan State teammate, Brian Hoyer.
Stanton's addition gave the Cardinals five quarterbacks on the current roster. A decision on Kevin Kolb's future with the Cardinals is widely expected within the next couple of days because the quarterback is due a $2 million roster bonus this weekend. Even without Kolb, the Cardinals still have to decide if John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Hoyer are part of the team's future plans – and that doesn't take into account the draft pick the team is expected to spend on the position.
While the likelihood that all five will make it to the first minicamp is small, Stanton is ready to compete for the starting job. Before signing with the Cardinals, Stanton didn't ask Arians whether he'll be the starter, but rather if he'll be able to compete
for the starting job. Arians said yes and Stanton was sold.
"I know the type of head coach that he's been, I saw it first-hand last year," Stanton said. "I know how he operates. Even more so than that, how his offense can be successful.
"I really felt like that's something I wanted to be a part of for the long term. When this opportunity presented itself, it was one that I knew I had to take."
Arians knew he had to have Stanton, despite the quarterback's lack of production the last two seasons. Stanton hasn't played in a game since Week 14 of 2010, his third year with the Lions. He's thrown for 1,158 yards, 11 interceptions and five touchdowns in his career, which includes four starts in 13 games.
"This is a great opportunity for Drew," Arians said. "He really impressed me during the year we spent together in Indy. Physically he has everything you want in a quarterback – big with a strong arm, can get it up the field and make all the throws. He's just as impressive mentally and understands the position. I'm excited to get him here and compete."
One of Stanton's top competitors will be Hoyer, who the Cardinals signed to a second-round tender last week. The two were teammates at Michigan State for three years, as Hoyer backed up Stanton before taking the reins himself for two years.
The two last talked when Arians was hired in January. Hoyer asked Stanton what to expect from the new head coach. Stanton, who gushed over his former coach during his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon, said Hoyer would love Arians.
But when the team unites for the first time in April, the two former Spartans will start competing against each other like it was college again.
"I think it's not going to be any different than as if I was competing against anybody else," Stanton said. "There's a respect factor there. We've all made it to this point. From my standpoint, I'm going to do everything I possibly can to get on the football fields on Sundays."
Some may think Stanton has a leg up on the rest of the field because of the season he spent with Arians in Indianapolis. He watched how Arians turned a band of rookies and free agents into a playoff team with a "quarterback-friendly" offense.
Stanton felt the same could be accomplished with the Cardinals, especially with a group of skill players included receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
"Obviously that's one of the big draws," said Stanton, who also included Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and newly acquired running back Rashard Mendenhall in that mix.
Stanton, who is entering his seventh season, has been a career backup. But he's ready to take the next step in a career that's been dedicated to being the veteran all the younger players rely on for advice and answers.
With a new team in a new setting, Stanton feels like he has one more answer up his sleeve.
"They need to find answers at this position," Stanton said. "I want to be that answer. I'm going to do everything in my power to be that answer and given that opportunity I feel like I can."