No risk in Cardinals’ look-see with QB Blaine Gabbert

May 12, 2017, 4:30 PM

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) scrambles against the Arizona Cardinals during t...

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (2) scrambles against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Bruce Arians’ most vivid memory of Blaine Gabbert came in the quarterback’s rookie season with Jacksonville, while Arians was still the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

“I remember a throw,” Arians said Friday after the first day of Cardinals rookie camp. “James Harrison came unblocked. [Gabbert] stood in there and threw a skinny post on the money for a touchdown [to Jason Hill] and I mean James Harrison clocked him. He just jumped up and kept on playing.”

The Cardinals’ decision to sign Gabbert to a one-year deal for $855,000 (if he makes the team) has spurred plenty of questions. Do the Cardinals think he is their quarterback of the future? Why didn’t they sign Colin Kaepernick instead? Could Gabbert supplant Drew Stanton as the Cardinals’ backup this season?

The simplest way to view this signing is that it comes with no risk attached. Gabbert’s salary is negligible, the Cardinals have an unquestioned starter for the season in Carson Palmer and Arians still feels confident in Stanton’s ability to man the backup role.

Why not take a look-see at a guy who was drafted 10th overall in 2011?

“I loved Blaine coming out,” Arians said. “He was very young when he came out of Missouri. He had a great arm. He was very athletic. Like most rookies that get put into a situation, he struggled, then went into San Francisco and battled his way out on the field.”

The glass-half-full view of Gabbert is that he has played for too many coaches and too many offensive coordinators on bad teams to get a true feel for what he can do.

The glass-half-empty approach is that Gabbert did nothing to elevate those teams. In six NFL seasons with the Jaguars and 49ers, he completed just 686 of 1,226 passes (56 percent) with 38 touchdowns, 37 interceptions and a 71.5 passer rating.

It’s a rare occurrence for scouts and executives to miss a franchise or No. 1 quality quarterback in the NFL Draft. It’s even less common for a guy to play in the NFL for six years and suddenly emerge as a bona fide starting quarterback capable of leading his team to the playoffs.

Gabbert’s salary and the Cardinals’ current QB situation suggest his best bet of making the roster would be in the No. 3 slot, by beating out Zac Dysert. He’ll also give the Cardinals another arm through offseason workouts, since Palmer isn’t expected to start throwing in earnest until the last week (the Cardinals also signed two rookie free agents). And training camp will be about a week longer this year because the Cardinals play five preseason games with the Hall of Fame Game added.

If Gabbert earns a spot on the team with his play, the Cardinals will have upgraded the bottom of their roster as general manager Steve Keim always strives to do. If he doesn’t make the team, the lack of risk means no biscuit lost.

It’s up to Gabbert now, but Arians professes to like what he has seen so far.

“Extremely great workout,” Arians said. “He can really spin it. He’s got great velocity but also he’s got great accuracy when he takes something off of it. I was really impressed with that and I was really impressed with his recall from the [former Jaguars’ coach Mike] Mularkey offense that is similar to ours. He could spit it out.”

Arians doesn’t sense any of the detritus that might accompany a quarterback who has played for bad teams, and been beaten up, physically and mentally.

“When you get beat up mentally by the press and everybody else it can weigh on you,” Arians said. “I don’t feel that when I talk to him. I feel some confidence still and I’m really anxious to throw him in the mix with our guys.”

Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter

Arizona Cardinals

Dallas Goedert #88 of the Philadelphia Eagles jumps out of a tackle by Dennis Gardeck #45 of the Ar...

Alex Weiner

Cardinals OLB Dennis Gardeck working to improve pass rush technique this offseason

Cardinals edge rusher Dennis Gardeck said he is improving his technique with new OLBs coach Rob Rodriguez to become a more complete rusher.

17 hours ago

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals warms up prior to his game against the Philadelphia Eagles...

Tom Kuebel

Bleacher Report: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray is NFL’s most overrated QB

Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport ranks Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray as the most overrated player at his position in the NFL.

17 hours ago

Monti Ossenfort...

Arizona Sports

Barnwell: Arizona Cardinals 12th-most improved team this offseason

In ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell's eyes, the Cardinals are among those who have used the offseason to their advantage.

3 days ago

Budda Baker #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during the second quarter against the Carolina Pan...

Wills Rice

ESPN’s Bowen: Best potential landing spots for Budda Baker, DeAndre Hopkins

ESPN's Matt Bowen gave the best potential landing spots for both wideout DeAndre Hopkins and Cardinals safety Budda Baker.

2 days ago

James Conner...

Tyler Drake

No complaints: Cardinals’ James Conner excited to ‘prove people wrong’ with new regime

While outside expectations are some of the lowest they have been in Cardinals history, RB James Conner isn't focused on the external noise.

2 days ago

Kyler Murray...

Arizona Sports

Simms: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in ‘clock’s ticking’ tier of NFL quarterbacks

After going down with a season-ending knee injury, can Kyler Murray return to form and be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL?

3 days ago

No risk in Cardinals’ look-see with QB Blaine Gabbert