TEMPE, Ariz. — Before the Cardinals signed quarterback Blaine Gabbert to a one-year deal last week, coach Bruce Arians made a courtesy phone call to Drew Stanton to let him know the move was coming.
“That’s all you can ask for,” Stanton said.
What Stanton, 33, would really like to ask for is a shot at being the Cardinals’ much-discussed quarterback of the future — at least the immediate future. He’s 6-3 as a starter in his four seasons in Arizona, he knows Arians’ system as well as anyone and he has the respect of the locker room.
That said, he understands why the Cards opted for a look-see with Gabbert.
“You’ve always got to plan,” he said. “I think they need to do what’s in their best interest and plan for that.”
Stanton hopes he’s a part of that plan.
“I just turned 33,” he said. “There’s no written rule on how you become a starter in this league. That’s my ultimate goal. I think that’s always been my goal. It’s taken me a while to get there but I still want to try and achieve that. Whether that’s here or someplace else down the road, my focus isn’t on that, it’s on the stuff I can control.”
Arians reiterated on Tuesday that Stanton is still the backup, and Gabbert’s base salary of $855,000 screams third quarterback. Whether that pecking order holds is up to Stanton and Gabbert, however. Competition is a consistent reality of NFL life.
Arians loves Stanton. He has a history with him that dates back to their days together in Indianapolis. Stanton’s incumbency carries weight, but not so much that it will preclude the best chance to win.
You can bet Gabbert signed on with an eye toward the franchise’s uncertain future at QB.
“The writing is on the wall, but in the meantime, you can’t worry about the future,” Gabbert said. “It’s just one of those things that everybody goes out there and competes on a daily basis. Right now, I’m just competing against myself, trying to improve each and every day, each and every period and just learn the system as fast as possible.”
Stanton has been through this process before so he is taking a practical approach.
“That’s what I’ve learned about being in the league and surviving in this league for so long is you’re always looking over your shoulder and you have to be because as soon as you get comfortable, that’s when you could lose the reins and never get it back,” he said. “I was one of those guys that’s always fighting for my whole career to make a roster spot so I understand what that takes and what that daily commitment is of showing up and trying to be perfect every day.
“I wish I would have known that earlier in my career because I was worried about all the extra curricular, everything else, what people were saying, what people were doing and it started taking away from my ability to play this game. Once I matured a little bit and started focusing really on what I have control over and really building upon that and having answers… it has allowed me to relax and play to my capability and learn and grow. You’re always doing that, especially in this position.”
The same mindset applies to his contract, which is set to expire after this season.
“This is the fifth time I’ve been in that situation so I’m familiar with the process,” he said. “It’s a weird sport. There’s a possibility that I might not take a snap the entire season if things go according to plan, so you just have to prepare for every possibility and you get used to living with that kind of uncertainty.”
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