TEMPE, Ariz. — And then there were none.
With Carson Palmer‘s decision to retire announced Tuesday, the Arizona Cardinals do not have a quarterback under contract for the 2018 season. Backups Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert and Matt Barkley are all scheduled to be unrestricted free agents when their contracts expire in March.
That will allow whomever the Cardinals hire as their head coach in the wake of Bruce Arians’ retirement Monday an opportunity to rebuild Arizona’s offense nearly from scratch.
Here is list of potential options the Cardinals may draft with the No. 15 pick overall or possible free-agent targets who could fill their void at quarterback:
Baker Mayfield: There’s a chance Mayfield could be around when the Cardinals go on the clock with the No. 15 pick in the first round of April’s NFL draft. And if he is, the Cardinals may need to buck their “best player available” philosophy and take a chance on him.
Mayfield, who is 6-foot-1 and weighs 220 pounds, is taller and heavier than both Russell Wilson and Drew Brees, two of his NFL comparisons. Mayfield has the personality that can ignite a team on the field as well as the fan base. The Cardinals could take another risk and start him in Week 1 or sign a veteran to be a bridge quarterback while Mayfield adapts to the pace of the NFL. What’s interesting about Mayfield is how he’s viewed. If those evaluating Mayfield like him, they compare him to the likes of Wilson and Brees. If they don’t like him, the most common comparison is NFL bust Johnny Manziel. If Mayfield is available at No. 15, he’s worth the risk — and the comparisons.
Lamar Jackson: The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is tall and long and can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, having thrown for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns against 10 interceptions during his junior season in 2017. He has until Jan. 15 to enter the draft.
Luke Falk: The 6-4 quarterback from Washington State is accurate, having completed 66.9 percent of his passes last season, and he’s used to throwing the ball. His 534 attempts were the third-most in the NCAA last season.
Mason Rudolph: No one threw for more yards than the Oklahoma State quarterback, who finished with 4,904 yards. His 37 passing touchdowns were tied for fourth most in the country.
Sam Bradford: His injury history is well-known, but he still has one of the best arms in the NFL.
Brees: Kurt Warner. Carson Palmer. There’s a precedent for older quarterbacks playing out their careers in the retiree capital of America, and Brees turns 39 this month. Put Brees and Larry Fitzgerald on the same field … watch out.
Kirk Cousins: One of the few quarterbacks who could be a mid- to long-term answer for the Cardinals. He turns 30 in August and is entering the prime of his career.
Jay Cutler: If Cutler comes back, he could be the ideal bridge quarterback for Arizona. He showed this season in Miami that he could still spin it even with just 11 starts.
Case Keenum: If anyone in the league proved himself this season, it’s Keenum, who held down the fort in Minnesota and led the Vikings to the playoffs in place of another guy on this list, Bradford.