Cardinals' 90-man roster analysis: Quarterback

The Arizona Cardinals have five quarterbacks on their 90-man roster and one of the most intriguing battles for a backup job in the NFL.

Tier Key

1: Players who, barring a significant setback or injury, will make the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

2: Players who must compete for a spot on the Cardinals' 53-man roster this season

3: Players who are likely to be cut by the Cardinals prior to the team finalizing its 53-man roster this season

Quarterbacks

Tier 1: Carson Palmer

Analysis: The 37-year-old Palmer is amidst the final stage of his career, as the 15-year NFL veteran attempts to close out his playing days on a high note. After joining the Cardinals back in 2013, Palmer has thrown for 4,000 yards in each season he's remained healthy while leading the franchise to the NFC Championship game in 2015. Though Palmer may not have much gas left in the tank, he's certainly still capable of leading the Cardinals to the promised land, and remains the only quarterback on the roster with a realistic chance of doing so. Though the Cardinals have not yet devised a succession plan for Palmer, the franchise will almost assuredly face a setback when he does decide to call it quits.

Tier 2: Drew StantonBlaine Gabbert

Analysis: Stanton began the offseason as Arizona's primary backup to Palmer, but from February through April, general manager Steve Keim and head coach Bruce Arians openly spoke about the franchise's desire to add a quarterback in the draft. The draft came and went and Arizona passed on every opportunity it had to draft a signal-caller, but that didn't prevent the franchise from creating competition for the backup job. Last week, the Cardinals signed Gabbert to a one-year contract with the expectation that he'll push Stanton for the No. 2 role during training camp. If Gabbert wins out, Stanton could find himself on the chopping block. If Stanton wins the battle, Gabbert may still find himself on the team's roster as the third quarterback who could potentially be viewed as a bridge between Palmer and whoever the Cardinals deem as his successor. Make no mistake, though, Gabbert should not be viewed as a quarterback of the future candidate.

Tier 3: Zac DysertTrevor Knight

Analysis: At the end of the 2016 regular season, the Cardinals elevated Dysert from the practice squad to the active roster after the Miami Dolphins expressed interest in signing Dysert following an injury to quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Arizona's decision to protect Dysert suggests Arians is at least intrigued by his potential, but now that Gabbert is in the fold, there's no room for Dysert to grow. Knight was the collegiate signal-caller the Cardinals took a post-draft flier on, and after the first weekend of rookie minicamp, Arians said he was impressed by the velocity and accuracy Knight had on his passes. Still, because the Cardinals will entertain a battle for the team's backup job, it's unlikely Knight earns an extensive opportunity to prove himself this fall. In tier three, Dysert and Knight will probably wind up competing for the right to lead Arizona's practice squad this season, which isn't a bad gig considering the Cardinals have a long list of coaches in-house with experience tutoring quarterbacks. 


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