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Cards backup Stanton: I’ll have chance to start when Palmer retires

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) is pressured by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett (72) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Drew Stanton was a free agent in March 2016, and while he had nothing but good things to say about his three previous seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, there was a thought that he would eventually find a new home.

No one would have blamed the QB if he wanted a chance to be the starting quarterback, which he will not be given in Arizona as long as Carson Palmer is still around.

However, Stanton chose to re-sign with the Cardinals, coming back for two seasons on a deal that was worth a reported $6.5 million “with significant upside.”

In three seasons with the Cardinals — primarily as a backup but with eight starts — Stanton has completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,815 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. He appeared in seven games last season, all in relief of Palmer, and is set to have the same role in 2016.

Given that, it would not have been a surprise if Stanton, now 32, had decided to leave Arizona for a chance to start. However, as he told SiriusXM NFL radio, he believes that opportunity may come in the desert. At least, that’s one of the reasons he chose to re-up with the Cardinals.

“I think the entire package,” he said of what led to his return. “As you get older, I think just wanting to be part of a good situation. There’s not a written rule of how you become a starting quarterback in this league and how you can sustain that over a long period of time. I’ve found a great situation here in Arizona.

“Who knows how long Carson will play for, but I’ve had at-length discussions with everybody in the franchise that there’s a chance for me to be able to start when he’s done. So that’s the whole goal of all this.”

Stanton added he realized the grass is not always greener on the other side, that going to a different team that was a lesser situation in order to make a little more money was not something he was willing to do.

“My family and I, all love the Phoenix area. They’ve been unbelievably gracious to us and accepting us, and now being there for three years and seeing the direction this franchise is headed, I wanted to make sure I was a part of it.”

Just how much a part of it Stanton will be, at least on the field when the games matter, remains to be seen. Palmer is under contract through the 2017 season — same as Stanton, now — though at 36 years old no one is quite sure how much longer he plans on playing. Last season, Palmer threw for a career-best 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns, and has shown little sign of slowing down.

And even when Palmer does decide to call it a career, Stanton is not necessarily an ideal replacement. A solid backup who has a big arm and knows the offense, he has just 12 career starts under his belt and would not appear to be a long-term solution at the position.

Still, if Palmer were to retire after the 2016 campaign, it would make sense to have Stanton start for at least one season while a younger passer can sit and learn the ropes or while the organization continues to search for its next franchise signal caller.

Either way, Stanton was clearly sold on the Cardinals’ plans going forward, and whether he starts or not, the Cardinals are better off having him on the roster than not.

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