Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians speaks with reporters during the NFC Head Coaches Breakfast at the NFL football annual meetings Wednesday, March 29, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)(Photo: The Associated Press)
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians knows that time is running short for finding an heir to quarterback Carson Palmer.
But Arians said that pick is not necessarily imminent “because I wouldn’t say it’s Carson’s last year.”
“Just like (Tom) Brady’s now saying he wants to play five more years. I think Carson’s one of those guys it’s going to be hard for him to say ‘I’m done,'” Arians said Wednesday as the league’s owners meetings came to an end. “And he’s healthy still.
“So I don’t think it’s mandatory this year, but it would be beneficial to all of us if we could get that out of the way.”
Palmer, who turned 37 in December, is returning for his 15th NFL season, his fifth with Arizona.
Arians said he believes there is only one quarterback in this year’s draft who is ready to start as a rookie. He wouldn’t identify him.
“All the rest, there are some really talented arms that need a year of learning how to play the position, especially at this level,” Arians said.
That would fit Arizona’s timetable.
Arians knows a lot about quarterbacks. During his long career as an NFL assistant, he worked with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. He said it’s important not to be too anxious to draft a player at that position.
“We’ve had two with the name on the card ready to roll and they’ve gone a pick or three picks ahead of us the last two years,” he said, “but you don’t want to reach. You’ve got them set on your board where you’d like to take that quarterback. If he falls to you in the fourth round, don’t take him in the third round because now you’re screwing up your board and you’re probably putting him in a position he doesn’t belong.”
Arians does not want to leave the Cardinals in the same boat they were in when Kurt Warner abruptly retired after the 2009 season. There was no quarterback ready to take Warner’s place and the franchise floundered until Arians and Palmer arrived in 2012.
“I saw what happened to Kenny (then-coach Ken Whisenhunt) in that situation,” Arians said, “and I don’t want that to happen to the organization again.”
Arians said the first things he looks for in a quarterback is in his head and his heart.
“If you’ve got a guy that’s got grit and he can lead, you probably can live with his skill level,” he said. “Now if he’s got skill level and those two things, you’ve got the world champ.”
Of course, arm strength is important.
“It doesn’t have to be a cannon because most guys with a cannon wait to see the guy get open, then they throw the fastball,” Arians said. “Those get intercepted the other way. You have to have some anticipation. So if you’re not quite as strong, you anticipate better and you’ll get it out on time. Accuracy is the key.”
Evaluating today’s college quarterback is made more difficult because so many play in a no-huddle spread offense.
“This is the biggest problem with young kids today,'” Arians said. “They’ve never got in a huddle and looked at 10 other guys who’ve got families to feed and had to call a play. They just looked at the sideline, kicked a foot and rolled. That is the hardest thing for these guys to come to minicamp and get in a professional huddle and try to lead these guys.”
But the 64-year-old Arians looks forward to working with a young quarterback again, saying such opportunities are “probably the most fun I’ve had in 40-some years of coaching.”
After he was “re-fired,” as he likes to describe his unwilling departure as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arians took the same job at Indianapolis, where he worked with Luck.
“That really rejuvenated me and gave me a whole new perspective on the game again,” he said.
Notes: Arians said Evan Boehm, drafted as a center a year ago, would begin the offseason workouts as the starting right guard. … Andre Ellington, re-signed to a one-year contract, will shift from running back to full-time wide receiver. He lined up frequently at receiver in the past. … Arizona plans to move Jared Veldheer to right tackle with D.J. Humphries taking over the left tackle spot, although Arians said he’s not completely sold on the idea.
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