Although the 2011 NFL Draft is over, the Arizona Cardinals are still in need of a quarterback. The ongoing lockout has limited the Cardinals' efforts in free agency but the outcome of the draft should help their cause to find a new signal caller.
Several teams entered this past weekend with major questions under center but almost all of those teams wound up with a rookie to build around. Carolina now has Cam Newton, Tennessee has Jake Locker, Minnesota has Christian Ponder, Cincinnati has Andy Dalton and San Francisco has Colin Kaepernick.
Arizona passed on taking a quarterback during the draft and now stands to benefit from that decision. While the market to acquire names such as Kevin Kolb and Carson Palmer might have developed into a bidding war, only a handful of teams are now expected to try and trade for them. The Cardinals' main competition will more than likely come from the division-rival Seattle Seahawks.
Even with the Seahawks potentially standing in the way, Seattle's situation under center is much more stable. There's still a chance veteran Matt Hasselbeck re-signs with the team and Charlie Whitehurst provides some sort of contingency plan if he doesn't. For the Cardinals, however, second-year signal caller John Skelton is the only realistic option to start who's currently on the roster.
Kolb and Palmer have been linked to Arizona in some sort of fashion throughout the offseason and by a process of elimination their potential landing spots have shrunk. Either the Cardinals make a move for them or they'll probably stay where they currently reside, unless Seattle jumps in. In Palmer's case, his threat to retire – rather than return to Cincinnati – remains.
With the selections of CB Patrick Peterson and RB Ryan Williams with their first two picks, the Cardinals also have more flexibility in the trade market. While it might be an unlikely scenario, Peterson could open the door to trade Greg Toler or even Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Trading either Beanie Wells or Tim Hightower (if he's resigned as a restricted free agent) now that Williams is in the mix would be a more probable outcome.
Recent reports show that Philadelphia is seeking a 2012 first-round pick and a starter in return for Kolb. Now that so many teams are out of the market for a quarterback, the Eagles might be forced to come down from those demands. If they refuse to budge, and the Cardinals feel strongly enough about Kolb, a deal including Rodgers-Cromartie and their first-round pick in next year's draft would probably get a deal done.
Will Mike Brown give into Carson Palmer's demands?
Now with three quality runners in the backfield, the Cardinals might prefer to hold onto Rodgers-Cromartie and move either Wells or Hightower. Wells, a first-round pick two years ago, still has potential to develop into a starting running back but he's been the grunt of endless criticism in the desert. Sending Wells to the Bengals in return for Palmer could end up benefiting both teams, particularly if Cedric Benson leaves the Queen City in free agency.
Of course, Arizona could also opt to stay clear of the trade market and sign a free agent. Marc Bulger is always the name speculated in this scenario and some believe Bulger already has an unwritten agreement to become a Cardinal. The move would make sense with Bulger serving as a bridge to Skelton, who demonstrated flashes of his ability a year ago.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at firstname.lastname@example.org
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