ARIZONA CARDINALS

Clayton: Cardinals’ quarterback answers could be found in free agency

Dec 22, 2017, 11:04 AM | Updated: Dec 23, 2017, 4:17 pm
Injured Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, center, talks with quarterback Drew Stanton, l...
Injured Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, center, talks with quarterback Drew Stanton, left, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert, right, during the second half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: John Clayton, NFL Insider

ESPN insider John Clayton thinks the Cardinals would prefer to bring a quarterback in through free agency if Carson Palmer retires rather than replacing him with someone right out of the draft.

“With an 8-8 record, that’s going to be probably 17 or 18 in the draft order and at that spot it might be hard,” Clayton said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf show Friday morning.

“I think first you would explore whats going to be out there on the veteran market,” said Clayton.

The question then becomes, who is available on the free agent market?

Kirk Cousins, Drew Brees, and Jimmy Garoppolo were class headliners coming into the season, but Garoppolo is now with the 49ers and appears to be their present and future QB, while Brees is not expected to leave the resurgent New Orleans Saints.

That leaves Cousins and a trio of quarterbacks from the Vikings organization including Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, and Sam Bradford as the head of the class.

A lot of the speculation is predicated upon whether or not Carson Palmer, who turns 38 in less than a week, decides to return for his 16th NFL season.

Whether he returns or not, at his age, retirement is looming and the importance of stability and direction of the quarterback position has been well documented and discussed often.

Clayton said despite the uncertainty at the position, things are not all doom and gloom for the organization.

“The defense is still good, that’s encouraging, but if Carson Palmer is not back, I think you go veteran first and wait for the draft second.” said Clayton.

There are three prospects ranked in the top ten by DraftWire at the quarterback position who played in the Pac-12 this season: Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Luke Falk. Other top QB prospects include former Heisman trophy winners Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield as well as Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

“Its a deeper draft so there might be quarterbacks of intrigue,” Clayton said.

If Palmer retires, the only quarterbacks on the roster would be backups Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert.

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