The 2017 season was difficult for the Arizona quarterbacks. It began by losing their best weapon in the season opener. It continued with injuries along the offensive line. It ended without a playoff appearance and the retirement of veteran starter Carson Palmer. Today we take a look at the unit as a whole and what comes next for the position.
Palmer started the 2017 season with high hopes of reclaiming past glory with Arizona. The Cardinals struggled to find consistency on offense as the running game stumbled out of the gate. The offense relied on the passing game which often misfired due to poor receiver play. Palmer struggled to stay upright behind a porous offensive line. In just seven games, Palmer was sacked 22 times.
The veteran’s season ended in London against the Rams. Alec Ogletree came untouched and buried his shoulder into the midsection of Palmer. The play resulted in an interception, but more importantly, a broken left arm. Palmer was on pace to throw for over 4,000 yards in 2017 prior to the injury. The Cardinals placed Palmer on injured reserve just days later. Palmer announced his retirement when the season ended.
Stanton is the type of quarterback a team keeps on the roster for his ability to know the system. Joining Bruce Arians after a season in Indianapolis, Stanton has started 13 games for the Cardinals while playing in 26 total. In 2017 he was charged with keeping the ship afloat when Palmer was lost for the season.
Stanton found himself on the bench for a few games due to a combination of poor play and an injury to his knee. Overall he started four games, winning three, and finishing with six touchdowns to five interceptions. While his record showed promise, his play was below average. Stanton completed less than 50 percent of his passes and struggled to move the ball consistently.
Gabbert was a reclamation project for Arians and the Cardinals. Signed as free agent prior to training camp, the former Jaguars’ top pick looked for a shot at redemption. Many were impressed with Gabbert during training camp and the preseason, some even suggesting he should be the backup. With Stanton suffering a knee injury in November, Gabbert started the next five games for Arizona.
The Cardinals went 2-3 with Gabbert at the helm, often relying on him to keep them in games with his arm. Unfortunately for Arizona, inconsistency has plagued the quarterback throughout his career. The first two games went fairly well, averaging nearly 250 yards passing each game while throwing a total of five touchdowns to three interceptions. The inconsistency reared its ugly head as his starting role ended with a depressing performance on the road against Washington with the season on the line. Gabbert completed just 16 of 41 passes for a 39 percent completion percentage and an interception. A win would have kept the Cardinals alive for the playoffs.
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The end of the season brought the retirement of Palmer and the expiring contracts for Stanton and Gabbert. Currently the team does not have a quarterback signed to the active roster. This is perhaps for the best as the quarterback position needs to hit reset this offseason. There have been rumors of the Cardinals being interested in free agent Kirk Cousins and possible veterans like Sam Bradford and Josh McCown. Do the Cardinals draft a young quarterback and sit him behind a veteran? Does the team go after someone like Kirk Cousins and push their chips to the center of the table? Whether the front office brings in a veteran or goes to the draft for a signal caller, the Cardinals will need a major upgrade at the position for 2018.