A second-string quarterback is just one of several needs that the Arizona Cardinals front office will have to address in 2020
After winning just five matchups last fall, it’s quite obvious that the Arizona Cardinals talent evaluators have some work to do. Steve Keim has presided over four consecutive non-winning campaigns, so the pressure should be on the club’s eighth-year general manager to right the ship. The Cards front office has plenty of roster holes to fill, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
One particular area of need for Arizona in 2020 is the backup quarterback spot. Rookie Kyler Murray managed to start all 16 games for the squad last season, but one never knows when disaster will strike. Acquiring a capable insurance policy for the franchise’s most important player is a task that should certainly be on Keim’s offseason agenda.
Brett Hundley, the Cardinals second option behind center in 2019, is headed for free agency in March. The 26-year old played sparingly for the organization, completing just 5 of 11 pass attempts for 49 yards in three appearances. Hundley is a worthwhile candidate for the gig, but there are two other more intriguing possibilities that deserve management’s consideration as well.
Marcus Mariota, after starting 61 contests as a member of the Tennessee Titans, may be forced to settle into a second-string role this year. The 26-year old, after being beaten out by Ryan Tannehill, is no longer the leader of the Titans scoring attack. Could the free agent Mariota be looking for a change of scenery after the demotion by the Tennessee coaching staff?
Mariota’s style would appear to make him a natural fit for Kliff Kingsbury‘s “Air Raid” offense. The former University of Oregon product possesses outstanding mobility and impressive arm strength, and would be a fine addition for Big Red. Whether Mariota would be willing to play second fiddle to Murray in the desert is a question that would need to be answered.
Another interesting name that could be appealing to the Cards when free agency gets underway is Case Keenum. The 31-year old has a familiarity with Kingsbury from their days together at the University of Houston. In fact, Keenum’s stint with Arizona’s head coach at the school was a highly productive one.
In 2011, Keenum threw for 5,631 yards and 48 touchdowns for the Cougars. For his efforts, the 6’1, 215 pounder was named the MVP of Conference USA, and was also the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. Kingsbury was in his second season as Houston’s co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach when Keenum collected those honors.
Murray’s tendency to take off and run at any given time leaves him susceptible to injury. Any squad hoping to contend needs to have a competent backup quarterback waiting in the wings. The Cardinals would be smart to hire either Mariota or Keenum to assume that role.