According to Jason LaConfora, and anyone who has watched the Arizona Cardinals play the past few years, the Cardinals could trade for a new quarterback before the beginning of the season.
Both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have failed to distinguish themselves so far in training camp or the team’s two preseason games. Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt was hoping for more from either of his inexperienced quarterbacks and may be considering moving on from the pair.
After trading for Kolb prior to last season, for a heft price nonetheless, the Cardinals are obviously not fearful of trading for a signal-caller. Whisenhunt has had success in the past with both young and old quarterbacks after working with both Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner.
While it may seem like the Cardinals will exclusively be searching for a veteran at this point, because of the youth of their current quarterbacks, that may not be the case. When Warner took over from Matt Leinart a few years back, the franchise still expected Leinart to be a capable starter at the very least. At this point, if they believed either Kolb or Skelton could eventually be their guy, they wouldn’t be even considering a trade.
Furthermore, the best veteran quarterbacks who could potentially be available don’t carry much value or fit with the offense. Presuming that any non starting veteran could be acquired, which also isn’t guaranteed, the best players available would be Shaun Hill of the Detroit Lions, Jason Campbell of the Chicago Bears, Kyle Orton of the Dallas Cowboys and Rex Grossman of the Washington Redskins.
Hill and Orton don’t have the arm strength to fit the offense. Campbell and Grossman are both inconsistent and would struggle to survive behind the team’s offensive line. Unless Ken Whisenhunt believes that his current team can win a Super Bowl with one of those players, there is no value in acquiring any of them for the short term.
For the long-term, they have been tried and tested. Unlike Kurt Warner, none of them were ever considered elite quarterbacks at any point either. It is very unlikely that any of them could rejuvenate the team the way Warner did.
The reality is that the Cardinals are a good football team, but they are not one piece away from the Super Bowl. Not even at quarterback.
On defense they have a lot of talent, but key players are also still developing such as Sam Acho and Patrick Peterson. On the other side of the ball the offensive line still needs a couple of new faces while the same question marks remain over the durability of their running backs. Larry Fitzgerald is arguably the best receiver in the league, but he can’t carry the offense on his own.
The Cardinals need to find a quarterback who can elevate the level of play at the position instantly, while also giving the franchise a potential long-term solution. Considering the current quality of play emanating from under center, there are plenty of players who fit the first requirement. The Cardinals need to find a starter who can do enough not to cost them games and not harm the development of his teammates.
Neither Skelton or Kolb have shown much to indicate they can do that, even though they have had plenty of chances.
The Cardinals are not bad enough overall to land the top pick in next year’s draft. The likelihood is that they won’t even pick in the top 10, even with Skelton or Kolb under center. However they won’t have any hope of winning the division if they are limited to strong defensive play and an average rushing attack.
Therefore, the Cardinals need to scour the NFL to find a player who could potentially play for years in Arizona or they face making a massive deal for a top quarterback next year as the Washington Redskins did for Robert Griffin III this year. Fortunately for the Cardinals, there is one player who ticks every box they have.
Tyrod Taylor, of the Baltimore Ravens, is only 22 years of age. Taylor was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of Virginia Tech. From a sheer physical talent perspective, Taylor fits what the Arizona Cardinals should be looking for. He has the arm strength to allow Larry Fitzgerald to thrive on the deep ball with more than enough mobility to overcome the protection problems.
Taylor ran for over 2,000 yards in college and passed for over 7,000 yards. In 865 attempts he threw 20 interceptions. As a college quarterback, Taylor was solid. He made plays in college that likely won’t translate to the NFL, but importantly he has seemingly taken very well to coaching during his short stint in the NFL.
Considering Ken Whisenhunt’s record with quarterbacks in Arizona, that doesn’t exactly inflate the optimism for Cardinals fans. However Whisenhunt had great success with Roethlisberger early in his career. If you break down the Cardinals’ quarterbacks he has worked with case by case, only John Skelton appeared to completely buy into Whisenhunt’s coaching and he lacks Taylor’s talent.
Even though Joe Flacco hasn’t received his long-term deal just yet, the likelihood is that Taylor will never get a chance to start in Baltimore. General Manager Ozzie Newsome will know that and likely be willing to let him go for decent compensation. Because Taylor has done nothing so far in the NFL, outside of a few impressive preseason performances, he likely wouldn’t cost more than a fourth round pick.
Giving up a fourth round pick for Taylor doesn’t prevent the team from later making a blockbuster deal if he fails to impress.
At 22 years of age, Taylor has plenty of room to improve. He already has a combination of qualities that the Cardinals lack however. He throws the football with good velocity and decent accuracy. His poise in the pocket and mechanics are impressive for such an inexperienced player. His athleticism is plain to see, while his decision making needs more exposure but shouldn’t deter potential suitors.
The Seahawks are not going to be able to pull off a blockbuster trade and land their franchise quarterback at this point. Nor are they likely to land a veteran who can help them win immediately. Instead, taking a low-risk high-reward option like Taylor could prove to be the best available option.