Free Agency Primer 2018: Quarterback

The Cardinals are embarking on a new era under Steve Wilks. In the ensuing months, they will identify their new starting quarterback and fill other positions of need. The first crack at re-shaping the roster will come in free agency, which begins on March 14. We’ll break down each position as it draws near.

*Free agent primer: *Quarterback

*Cap hit of players under contract for 2018: *None

Scheduled free agents: Drew Stanton; Blaine Gabbert; Matt Barkley

Need: High

Images of some of the more notable quarterbacks scheduled to hit free agency

Analysis: Carson Palmer retired after five seasons as the unquestioned starter, while reserve signal-callers Stanton, Gabbert and Barkley are all scheduled to become free agents in mid-March. Wilks said the team plans to be “active and aggressive” at the quarterback position in free agency.

Stanton has been the backup quarterback for the past five years and has gone 9-4 as the fill-in. He will be 34 in May. Gabbert started five games last season but was benched for the final pair. He is five years younger than Stanton.

Kirk Cousins is the crown jewel of the class, but also figures to be the most expensive. Case Keenum, A.J. McCarron, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown are in the next tier and have all had success as starters in the past, but each comes with a set of potential drawbacks. Drew Brees is scheduled to become a free agent but is widely expected to re-sign with the Saints.

The Cardinals’ decision in free agency could foreshadow their urgency in the draft. If a stopgap quarterback is signed, it seems likely the team pushes hard to draft a quarterback early. If a player with above average ability is inked, the position is no longer as much of a concern.

The Cardinals have plenty of talented pieces, but the absence of a quarterback is the glaring issue. Free agency will be the team’s first crack at filling the void.

Notable past free agent quarterback signings: Gabbert (2017); Stanton (2013); Derek Anderson (2010); Kurt Warner (2005); Shaun King (2004); Boomer Esiason (1996); Jim McMahon (1994); Steve Beuerlein (1993).

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