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Sport Arians' Carson Palmer-or-bust plan leaves Cardinals busted at QB

21:40  03 january  2018
21:40  03 january  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

Larry Fitzgerald undecided about playing in 2018

  Larry Fitzgerald undecided about playing in 2018 The 11-time Pro Bowl receiver hinted a couple of years ago his future might be linked to quarterback Carson Palmer's status.Although the Cardinals star signed a 2018 contract extension in November, the 34-year-old wide receiver said Thursday he hasn't committed to playing next season.

Finding a new quarterback will be harder for the Cardinals than replacing Bruce Arians , because they never had anyone to take the reins from Carson Palmer .

The retirements of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer on consecutive days represents the end of an era in Arizona. The Cardinals , health permitting, have everything else they need to pick up where Arians left off.

The retirements of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer on consecutive days represents the end of an era in Arizona. The Cardinals, though, have to guard against the start of another, less-welcome era — the No-Quarterback Era.

The Cardinals, health permitting, have everything else they need to pick up where Arians left off. At the top of that list is general manager Steve Keim, Sporting News’s NFL Executive of the Year three seasons ago, when they went through three quarterbacks and still landed at 11-5 and in the playoffs. Considering they went through three quarterbacks again this season, plus other major player losses, Keim might have earned a few votes for coming in at 8-8.

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The Cardinals might also make their move in the draft. They’re at 15th overall now. They could very well move up, or down, for who they think is right. The Baker Mayfield talk began within seconds of the ending of the Rose Bowl on Monday, the same day Arians walked away.

MORE: Kirby Wilson strong candidate for Cardinals RB coach. Fitzgerald Sr. is referring to two major Cardinals changes: The retirements of head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Carson Palmer . MORE: Arians ' Palmer - or - bust plan leaves Cards busted at QB .

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Keim and Arians, though, had a blind spot the last couple of years — well-intentioned, but still blind. Now Keim has to fix the problem everybody saw coming. There was no Palmer replacement in waiting, no heir apparent.

Their goal was to keep contending for a Super Bowl, and that meant going for broke with Palmer in his late 30s with an injury history, to put it mildly. They stuck with that plan until he broke for good.

Quarterback issues still managed to be their Achilles’ heel. Palmer going down for the season in 2014 and ’17, Palmer throwing a bushel of picks in the NFC title game in ’15, a week after the epic overtime playoff win over the Packers. Yet the Cardinals’ present dilemma is not Palmer, who was worth the gamble. It’s replacing Palmer and finishing the job he and Arians started.

Texans to retain Bill O'Brien; Bruce Arians to step down in Arizona, reports say

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In 2016, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer threw the ball deep less frequently than any other year during his tenure in But that doesn't mean Palmer can't still sling it, and Arians ' review of his performance at the We're left , however, with a lot of "coulds." He could bounce back , Fitzgerald could again rock

ARIZONA CARDINALS . News: Bruce Arians announces his retirement as head coach. 2018 starting QB : It's technically Carson Palmer , but that would change if he decides to retire. It could be a name out of left field. If they don't like him, the most common comparison is NFL bust Johnny Manziel.

The only quarterback they drafted during the Arians era, Logan Thomas, is now a tight end. Drew Stanton has been a valued backup for four years, and he turns 34 this year. Ryan Lindley, who unfortunately inherited the gig in ’14, is out of the game. Blaine Gabbert was at the controls for five starts this year.

Finding their quarterback to take the baton is going to be harder than finding their next coach.

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Ideally, the Cardinals will find a combo that works the way Arians and Palmer did — but if that was so easy, more teams would have those combos in place.

They might get that quarterback out of the free-agent or trade markets, but even finding the right coach doesn’t guarantee he will be the right match with the best quarterbacks available. Kirk Cousins is out there for what should be the biggest contract a quarterback has ever received. Teddy Bridgewater is out there. So are, probably, Sam Bradford, and Alex Smith, and Tyrod Taylor, and A.J. McCarron. And Colin Kaepernick, who got completely ignored this season but might not necessarily get ignored next season.

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Arians and Palmer were tied at the hip; both joined the Cardinals organization in 2013 and retired within two days of each other at the close of the 2017 campaign. The next five months will prove crucial if Arizona is to continue that trend or choose to reshape the organization entirely.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer on retirement: 'I just know'. The veteran wide receiver can still play at a high level, but whether he keeps playing or retires may depend on the next coach, says Bruce Arians .

The Cardinals might also make their move in the draft. They’re at 15th overall now. They could very well move up, or down, for who they think is right. The Baker Mayfield talk began within seconds of the ending of the Rose Bowl on Monday, the same day Arians walked away. No position in the draft is harder to predict, though.

It all circles back, though, to the Cardinals being a contender everywhere else except at the most important position.

MORE: 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Who goes where?

a man wearing a helmet: Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians © (Getty Images) Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians

They may lose Larry Fitzgerald, turning 35 in August and completing his 16th season — unless they don’t. They’re in good shape at receiver if he does go. David Johnson should come back at full strength. The defense felt the loss of Calais Campbell, but most franchises would take that unit over their own.

Keim puts rosters together well. He’s drafted well. Just not at quarterback, in either case. But he didn’t have to, technically, for a long time.

Now, he does. This version of the Cardinals are in a new world. Pick the right player, though, and it could be as good as the old world — or better.

Larry Fitzgerald doesn't have 'any timetable' on retirement decision .
Fitzgerald hauled in 109 receptions last year, but will be 35 years old when next season begins.Cardinals fans everywhere want to know whether Fitzgerald plans on returning for a 15th season, after hauling in 109 passes for 1,156 yards and six touchdowns last season.

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