As the Arizona Cardinals begin their quest to cut the team's roster size from 90 to 53 by the end of the preseason, we're taking a look at every player at each position group and determining their odds of making the final cut.
Player: Blaine Gabbert
Experience: 7th NFL season
Contract status: 2017: $900,000
2016 season quick review: Gabbert began the 2016 campaign as the starting quarterback for Chip Kelly's San Francisco 49ers team in an offense devoid of playmakers for a franchise that seemingly lacked any sense of direction. Remarkably, the situation shouldn't have felt unfamiliar for Gabbert, who spent the first three seasons of his career starting off and on with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gabbert started the first five games for San Francisco last year, compiling a 1-4 record which included a loss against the Drew Stanton-led Arizona Cardinals in week five that ultimately served as his final start for the 49ers. The Missouri product struggled mightily last season, completing just 57 percent of his passes and throwing five touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Though Gabbert wasn't surrounded by many weapons, he didn't do enough to hang onto his starting job as the team turned to Colin Kaepernick in week six and forced Gabbert into a backup role for the remainder of the season.
Projected roster status: Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians doesn't like keeping three quarterbacks on his active roster, but if Gabbert loses out in the competition for the No. 2 role, there's still a possibility Arizona would consider hanging onto him in 2017 to see if the Cardinals can unlock some of his potential on the practice field. While Gabbert was brought in to compete with veteran Drew Stanton for the backup job, Arizona may give him an extended look beyond training camp if the organization believes Gabbert can be a bridge to the future if Palmer does decide to retire after the 2017 season.
Projected depth chart status: With Palmer firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, Gabbert is competing for the No. 2 spot on the Cardinals' depth chart with Stanton. If Gabbert outperforms him this fall, then the Cardinals will likely cut Stanton to preserve cap space. If Gabbert loses the job, he could find himself on the chopping block or could benefit from the team's interest in his potential and play behind Stanton as a No. 3 option.
CardinalsSource.com analysis: When the Cardinals announced they signed Gabbert earlier this month, widespread panic took hold of the team's fanbase as some loyalists assumed the team believed Gabbert could wind up being the quarterback of the future for the franchise. However, even if Arians and Co. find a way to help Gabbert play up to his potential, CardinalsSource is of the belief that Arizona would never move forward with a vision that included Gabbert as the long-term answer at the quarterback position. Gabbert has far too many inconsistencies in his game to ever become one of the more polished passers in the league, and he's not a quick-enough processor to thrive on the big stage. While the idea of using Gabbert as a bridge to whoever the Cardinals determine is their quarterback of the future isn't a flawed one, it's an idea the franchise may want to cycle through quickly. Though Gabbert's career has largely been defined by the instability surrounding him, the ceiling on his skill set is clearly much lower at this point in his career than it was believed to be when he entered the league.
Overall value: Any time a franchise signs a quarterback with a career record of 9-31 as a starter, there's bound to be criticism. That's fair, and that's understandable. But in terms of the value Gabbert brings to the franchise with his one-year, $900,000 contract, there's no reason to scoff at general manager Steve Keim's decision to sign the seventh-year veteran. If Gabbert pans out as a backup, then the Cardinals will have increased the level of play at the position while dumping Stanton's larger contract. If Gabbert doesn't pan out, it's a nothing ventured, nothing gained type of a situation that won't make a considerable impact on the franchise's bottom line. Keim and the Cardinals are always looking to create competition, and at the very least, this move should light a fire under Stanton come training camp.