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Bruce Arians wants Cardinals to have QB of future before he retires

PHOENIX -- Bruce Arians is in no hurry to find the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback of the future this offseason, but the 64-year-old head coach hopes to have one in place before he decides to retire, whenever that might be.

Arians said Wednesday during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meetings that he wants to ensure the franchise’s quarterback situation is stable after he retires, solidifying his legacy with the organization for years to come.

"I saw what happened to (former Cardinals coach) Kenny (Whisenhunt) in that situation and I don’t want that to happen to the organization again," Arians said, referring to the quarterback carousel that included six starting quarterbacks between Kurt Warner retiring after the 2009 season and Arizona trading for Carson Palmer in 2013.

Though Arizona doesn’t need to find a quarterback to play in 2017, this might be the draft to find the quarterback Arians will feel comfortable leaving for his successor. But if Arians can’t find him in next month’s draft, he’s still not worried about finding one eventually.

"I wouldn’t say this is Carson’s last year," said Arians, referring to Palmer. "Just like (New England quarterback Tom) Brady is saying he wants to play five more years, I think Carson, it’ll be hard for him to say, 'I’m done.'

"He’s still healthy so I don’t know if it is mandatory this year, but it would be beneficial to all of us to get it out of the way."

Arians said, without naming him, that there is one quarterback in this year’s draft class who is ready to start as a rookie. Among the rest, he added, there are "some really talented arms that need a year of learning how to play the position, especially at this level."

For years, Arians said he wasn’t fond of stashing a young quarterback and having him learn while holding a clipboard on the sideline. But, recently, he’s been more open to the idea of letting a rookie study behind veterans like Palmer and Drew Stanton. And, Arians said, this year’s crop of quarterbacks is perfect for that.

The Cardinals, Arians said, would like to take a quarterback every year. They’ve been prepared to select a quarterback in each of the past two drafts, going as far as writing a name on the draft card, only to see him selected in the picks just before Arizona's. This year will be no different for Arizona’s draft philosophy, but only if the right quarterback is available at the right spot.

So, what is the right spot?

"You don’t want to reach," Arians said. "You have them set on your board where you want to take that quarterback. If he falls to you, take him. But don’t reach. If you have one (rated) in the fourth round, don’t take him in the third round.

"That’s when you screw up your board and you’re probably putting him in a position where he doesn’t belong."

That each year brings a new crop of young quarterbacks gives Arians some comfort knowing he could find a quarterback next year if this year’s draft doesn’t pan out. Reaching for a quarterback, Arians said, could result in a "bust, because your expectations are out of whack."

What will happen, though, if the quarterback the Cardinals want is still available long before Arizona's next pick? A trade isn’t out of the question, Arians said.

"That would strictly be an organizational decision," Arians said. "Is he worth giving up those other picks? We might be in a situation to use some of next year’s picks because we have so many, hopefully (when compensatory picks are factored in).

"This is going to be a really fun draft. I think there is going to be a lot of action all the way around."