Cardinals still searching for good QB play

For the third consecutive offseason, the Cardinals' top priority on either side of the ball will be finding a way to improve their quarterback play.

For the third consecutive offseason, the top priority on either side of the ball will be finding a way to improve the quarterback play.

That's unlikely to include a personnel change, although the club is expected to express interest if Peyton Manning hit the open market.

Most speculation has the Cardinals way down the list of teams that could attract Manning. But that's all it is, at this point.

Looked at objectively, the Cardinals seem to have a lot going for them if they chose to pursue Manning.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt has proven he's willing to commit to the passing game and mold an offense around an older quarterback who likes to play a certain way.

The team has one of the NFL's better receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, and two talented young running backs in Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams.

The offensive line needs to be addressed, but Manning can make an average line look good.

Several hurdles have to be cleared before the pursuit of Manning becomes a reality. It's far more likely that the club will have the same trio at quarterback as it did in 2011: Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Rich Bartel.

Whisenhunt hasn't addressed who is the starter. Most likely, it will be Kolb, who will be challenged by Skelton.

Kolb is due a roster bonus of $7 million on March 13, about a week after the Colts' deadline to pay Manning a $28 million roster bonus. That gives the Cardinals a brief time to

make a decision, although it's unlikely Manning will be sound enough physically then to throw the ball.

The Cardinals have other issues. They need to concentrate on upgrading their offensive line and adding talent at receiver.

Left tackle Levi Brown is likely to be released because his cap number escalates from around $9 million to $17 million. There's a dearth of talent in free agency at that position, so it's possible the club could look at re-signing Brown, a five year veteran. Brown would have to play for considerably less money, and he could be attractive to many teams.

Right tackle is also a concern. Brandon Keith struggled through last season. He played through a knee injury all year, but he also needs considerable improvement in technique.

It's possible the club could also look at upgrading the right guard position.

Rex Hadnot started there last year. He's back but could be challenged by a draft pick. Hadnot is a tough veteran but isn't that mobile. The Cardinals like to pull their guards and that's not Hadnot's strength.

There is little young offensive line talent on the roster. That's no surprise since the team hasn't drafted one in the last two years.

Coaches seem less concerned than anyone else about the wide receiver position behind Fitzgerald. Andre Roberts went through a month-long stretch during the season in which he produced little.

Coaches think that has more to do with poor quarterback play than with Roberts not being able to handle the job.

Early Doucet, the No. 3 receiver, is an unrestricted free agent who could draw some attention in free agency. The club wants him back, but at the right price.

None of the other young players on the roster - DeMarco Sampson, Stephen Williams and Jaymar Johnson - have proven they're ready to make an impact.

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