Schlereth: Cardinals should focus on acquiring Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith
Now, the search is on for a new head coach and quarterback to lead the team in 2018, but who should they target?
According to Fox Sports’ Mark Schlereth, the Cardinals would be better off acquiring a veteran quarterback than relying only on a rookie in the draft.
“If I was the GM of that team, I would look for a veteran quarterback much like you guys had in Carson Palmer,” he said on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta Thursday. “There is two that are potentially available that could change your franchise. Kirk Cousins is one.
“I think he is a top-10 quarterback in this league.”
Cousins finished the 2017 season with 4,093 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, leading the Redskins to a 7-9 record behind a depleted receiving corps.
Prior to the 2017 season, top wide receiver Pierre Garcon was signed by the 49ers, while tight end Jordan Reed battled injuries throughout the course of the season.
Despite that, Cousins managed to finish seventh overall in passing yards in the NFL, utilizing receiver Jamison Crowder and veteran tight end Vernon Davis as his primary targets.
The Cardinals have the opportunity to sign Cousins when he becomes a free agent in March if the Redskins do not use a franchise tag.
Along with Cousins, Schlereth sees Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith as another option for the Cardinals.
Smith finished just behind Cousins in terms of passing yards with 4,042, and touchdowns with 26. However, Smith has only thrown five interceptions this season, the second-least in the NFL for quarterbacks who played in at least 15 games.
Smith will not become a free agent until 2019, but with first-round pick Patrick Mahomes poised to take over the starting job for the Chiefs next season, Smith could potentially be available with the Chiefs having to make a difficult decision on his future.
Schlereth says a veteran quarterback would enhance the likelihood of Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald returning for the 2018 season.
Fitzgerald signed a one-year extension in November to remain in Arizona through the 2018 season. But at the time of the extension, Fitzgerald was still reportedly considering retirement.
If Fitzgerald elects to play next season, and the Cardinals keep their young receiving corps intact, Schlereth believes a veteran quarterback could lift the Cardinals back into playoff contention.
“If you can get (Cousins) or Alex Smith, one of those two guys,” Schlereth said. “If one of those two guys is available your franchise is right back at the top of the division.”