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Cardinals Flight Plan: The search for a franchise quarterback

During the second episode of “Cardinals Flight Plan,” general manager Steve Keim was asked if finding a franchise quarterback is the Holy Grail for any GM.

Keim took it a step further.

“I think it’s the Holy Grail for an organization,” Keim said. “I think everyone in this organization, for the most part, the success of their career in some way is attached to their franchise quarterback.”

Keim should know more than most. Entering his sixth season as Arizona’s general manager, he’s efforting to find the Cardinals’ next franchise quarterback for the second time.

The first time around, things worked out pretty well. In the spring of 2013, Keim engineered a trade with the Oakland Raiders, nabbing veteran Carson Palmer for late-round draft picks. Palmer played very well in Arizona, guiding the Cardinals to a 38-21-1 record while throwing for 105 touchdowns and 57 interceptions and helping his team to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Palmer retired in January.

Now, it’s up to Keim and his staff to find the next signal caller.

“If you don’t have (a franchise quarterback), and can’t find one, a head coach’s and general manager’s stay is usually not very long,” Keim said. “As simplistic as that philosophy sounds, it’s extremely tough because there are 32 teams and 32 guys don’t exist that are considered franchise quarterbacks.”

The latest episode “Cardinals Flight Plan” focuses on the work of the scouting department during the annual Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, which was held in January. This year’s crop of draft-eligible passers was well represented at the showcase with Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen heading the list.

“I think every position, in itself, is unique, but quarterback is obviously extremely important because they handle the ball on every play and they make decisions,” Cardinals Eastern Region scout Luke Palko says.

The episode also gives a little bit of the players’ perspective. Virginia’s Kurt Benkert describes the hectic interview process, where players jump from table to table to have brief conversations with franchises.

“It’s basically like speed dating,” he said.

The next episode of “Cardinals Flight Plan” premieres on Facebook Watch March 14 and will look at Steve Wilks’ coaching staff and the NFL Combine process.

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