Cardinals desperate for answer at quarterback

Coming off a 5-11 season, the Cardinals are in desperate need of a quarterback and will travel every avenue to find one.

Finding a quarterback is the priority this offseason, and the Cardinals will travel every avenue to find one.

Currently, the only option available to them is the draft. The lockout at least delays the option of trying to trade for the Eagles' Kevin Kolb, the Broncos' Kyle Orton or the Bengals' Carson Palmer.

And of those three teams, only the Eagles have acknowledged interest in even listening to offers.

Free agency is also closed to the Cardinals, who have interest in Marc Bulger, who spent last year as the Ravens' backup.

In a normal offseason, the Cardinals likely would have acquired a veteran by now, either signing Bulger or making a trade.

They prefer not to use the fifth overall pick on a quarterback, because they don't believe there is a player worthy of that status.

It's believed that the organization's key decision-makers - coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves - aren't big fans of Auburn's Cam Newton.

The team's brain trust, including owner Bill Bidwill and president Michael Bidwill, attended the Pro Day of Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

But it's dangerous to read too much into that. Gabbert's Pro Day was the day after league meetings concluded, and Cardinals officials had flown there on Michael Bidwill's plane.

It made logistical sense to fly to Columbia, Mo., from New Orleans before returning home to Phoenix.

While the Cardinals aren't expected to take a quarterback with the fifth overall pick, they could take a quarterback in their top three selections.

Derek Anderson, a part-time starter last year, probably will be released. Whisenhunt is optimistic about John Skelton's future after watching Skelton perform as a rookie. Max Hall, another rookie last year, looked overwhelmed when he played and he'll struggle to make the team. Coaches like veteran Rich Bartel as a possible third quarterback.

The Cardinals clearly need an option in the event their efforts to acquire a veteran quarterback fail.

When identifying candidates, it's important to look at Whisenhunt's history. He is credited for playing a part in Ben Roethlisberger's early success in Pittsburgh, but as the Steelers' offensive coordinator, Whisenhunt butted heads with Roethlisberger over the young quarterback's work ethic. His relationship with Matt Leinart in Arizona was much the same.

In a young quarterback, Whisenhunt wants to see a passion for the game and a willingness to work long hours and lead.

TCU's Andy Dalton reportedly has those qualities. Nevada's Colin Kaepernick could be tempting also in the second or third round. If Washington quarterback Jake Locker falls out of the first round, the Cardinals have to be intrigued. Florida State's Christian Ponder is a possibility, also.

The Cardinals obviously are in a difficult position in finding a quarterback. Kurt Warner retiring with a year left on his contract set them back, and Whisenhunt made a mistake last season by not keeping Matt Leinart as a backup to Anderson.

That's left the team searching for a veteran quarterback again, and it might just be left with the best of some mediocre options.

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