Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Analysis: Cardinals sign quarterback Blaine Gabbert

The Arizona Cardinals signed quarterback Blaine Gabbert Thursday, a former first round draft pick who has won just nine of the 40 games he's started during his career.

Player: Blaine Gabbert

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 235 pounds

Age: 27

College: Missouri

Experience: Six NFL seasons

The skinny: The Cardinals were reportedly considering selecting Gabbert in the first round of the 2011 Draft, but the franchise ultimately wound up with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. In hindsight, the move to draft Peterson looks brilliant, and not only because seven seasons later, the team ended up with both players on its roster.

Upon entering the NFL, Gabbert inherited a tremendously challenging situation in Jacksonville, where no quarterback in the last decade has experienced success. As a rookie, Gabbert took over as the Jaguars' starting quarterback, winning four of the 14 games he started. Amazingly, Gabbert's 4-10 record that season remains the best mark of his career, as he's won just five of the 26 games he's been the signal-caller. 

Gabbert's career mark of 9-31 is a testament to the terrible teams he's played on, Jacksonville and San Francisco, but also revealing of the challenges he's faced in assimilating to the NFL. 

Throughout his career, Gabbert has struggled with accuracy, compiling a 56.0 percent completion rate over six seasons while never throwing for more than 2,214 yards in a single campaign. While Gabbert has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions (38:37), his career interception rate of 3.0 is still relatively high.

Last season, Gabbert began the year as San Francisco's starting quarterback, but after a woeful 1-4 push through the first five weeks, the 49ers turned their focus to Colin Kaepernick, who was a better schematic fit for Chip Kelly's offense --and we'll say it, a better leader on the field.

To this point in his career, Gabbert has never experienced sustained success, or even mild success for that matter. After six seasons trading off between starting and serving as a backup, Gabbert is hoping a fresh start in Arizona will allow him to unlock the potential many scouts were so high on when he entered the league in 2011.

The rationale: The Cardinals are eternally hopeful that one day, a magical plan for developing starter Carson Palmer's successor will appear, and the signing of Gabbert indicates Arizona has serious concerns about what's going to take place when Palmer does decide to call it quits.

Though the decision to sign Gabbert will surely draw the scorn of most Cardinals' fans, it's a relatively low-risk signing for general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians. If Gabbert proves he still has the tools that excited scouts six years ago, the Cardinals are hoping Arians and quarterback coach Byron Leftwich will be able to hone his craft in a low-pressure situation and prepare for his next opportunity.

While Arizona already has a capable backup quarterback, Drew Stanton, in the fold, if Gabbert outplays Stanton during training camp, the Cardinals may consider turning the page and releasing Stanton or keeping three quarterbacks on the roster for a doomsday scenario. If Gabbert doesn't outplay Stanton, it's a nothing ventured, nothing gained type of a situation where the team can release Gabbert without any qualms. 

The deeper rationale behind the Cardinals' decision to sign Gabbert though is their hope that Gabbert can form a bridge between Palmer and the next player the franchise tabs as the quarterback of the future. After passing on signal-callers in the 2017 Draft, the Cardinals do not have an opportunity to work with a highly-touted rookie quarterback this season, which could slow the transitional process if Palmer decides to retire after this season. What the addition of Gabbert does is give the team flexibility in 2018 should Palmer retire, because Gabbert can slide in and provide Arizona with a mediocre game manager while the franchise waits for a freshly drafted quarterback to grow and develop in Arians' system.

Though some fans and analysts are treating the Gabbert signing as an indication that Arizona would seriously consider developing Gabbert and putting its stock in the seventh-year veteran, CardinalsSource doesn't see it that way. We've watched enough of Gabbert to know his ceiling in the NFL is relatively low, even if he makes strides under Arians' tutelage. The Cardinals won't and shouldn't view this signing as a building block for the future, but rather, as a low-risk situation where Gabbert can help ease the blow if the franchise is hit with a wake up call from Palmer after the 2017 season. 

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