Arizona Cardinals history peppered with free agent passers
By Jim Koch
With the signing period just days away, a look back at how the Arizona Cardinals have fared with free agent signal-callers
It’s a road that the Arizona Cardinals have been down before. The organization has acquired more than it’s fair share of free agent quarterbacks over the years. And they’re about to travel down that familiar path again.
With the start of free agency now just days away, it’s almost a certainty that the Cardinals will be signing one of the available passers. In fact, it’s quite possible that more than one free agent signal-caller will be heading to the desert. Former Washington Redskin Kirk Cousins is the top name out there, while others like Case Keenum, A.J. McCarron, Sam Bradford and Josh McCown will also be looking for work.
Arizona struck it rich in 2005 when they brought in someone many believed to be washed-up. Former St. Louis Ram Kurt Warner proved the doubters wrong in a big way. The Associated Press’ two-time NFL MVP (1999, 2001) was tremendous in leading the Cards to their one and only Super Bowl appearance following the 2008 campaign.
Norman “Boomer” Esiason played one year with the Cardinals in 1996. The defensive-minded Vince Tobin had just become the head coach, and looked to the experienced veteran to run the offense. Besides a remarkable three-game stretch in November, Esiason’s time with the franchise was pretty much forgettable.
Drew Stanton thought that he had finally landed a starting gig when he signed with Arizona in 2013. Upon bringing the Michigan State product aboard, new head coach Bruce Arians had anointed him his number-one quarterback. Stanton was demoted a short time later, however, when Carson Palmer arrived via a trade with the Oakland Raiders.
Steve Beuerlein was handed a three-year, $7.5 million contract in 1993, but won just two of his first eight starts with his new squad. The highly sought-after free agent rebounded later in the season, winning four of the last five contests of ’93. Beuerlein played the next season for Buddy Ryan, but was dubbed the “worst quarterback I’ve ever seen” by the late head coach.
Dave Krieg was another signal-caller who had the misfortune of playing on a team coached by Ryan. The long-time Seattle Seahawk started all 16 games in 1995, but emerged victorious in just four. Krieg’s 21 picks contributed to both he and Ryan being let go following the final contest against the Dallas Cowboys.
Derek Anderson had some big shoes to fill when he arrived from the Cleveland Browns in 2010. Warner’s retirement with a year left on his deal had the Cards in a panic. Anderson’s post game tirade against a member of the media, following a nationally-televised loss, is unfortunately what he’s best remembered for.
Jeff Blake found himself in a similar situation as Anderson when he joined the Cardinals in 2003. The one-time starter for the Cincinnati Bengals was replacing Jake “the Snake” Plummer, an extremely popular figure in the “Grand Canyon State”. Blake did not fare well, completing just 56.7% of his passes and tossing 15 interceptions in his 13 starts, before being let go at the end of the season.
A host of other free agent passers also took snaps for the Cards at one time or another. A group that included Blaine Gabbert, Dave Brown, Kent Graham, Jim McMahon, Chris Chandler, Jay Schroeder and Brian Hoyer, among others. None of the above had any kind of sustained success with the organization worth mentioning.
Next: Arizona Cardinals will make their moves in due time
Hopefully, Arizona has better luck with whatever quarterback they’re united with in the upcoming weeks. Palmer had a nice run with the Cardinals, and won’t be easy to replace. Unfortunately for them, free agent success-stories like Warner’s are not an everyday occurrence.