- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals made a move at quarterback Friday afternoon, and it wasn’t the expected one.
Arizona sent a conditional seventh-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for quarterback Matt Barkley. If Barkley is on the roster for at least six games, the Eagles get the pick. If he isn’t, Arizona keeps it.
My guess is that the Cardinals will draft in the seventh round in 2016.
But that’s not the point here. It’s this: The Cardinals apparently have given up on Logan Thomas for a quarterback who’s smaller, has a weaker arm and hasn’t lived up to expectations.
Like Thomas, Barkley was taken in the fourth round. And as was the case with Thomas, that was a reach. It’s hard to believe coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim made the Barkley trade just to put him on the practice squad come Monday. Could he be trade bait in another deal? Potentially, but I doubt it.
The Cardinals cut Thomas on Friday, according to a source. Fellow backup quarterback Phillip Sims tweeted a message that implied he was let go as well. By cutting both, the hope had to be that whichever of the two got through waivers would end up on the practice squad.
Arians said Friday that having just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster was “always a possibility,” but having two quarterbacks on the practice squad wasn’t going to happen unless one could play defensive back as well. He was joking.
But instead of waiting until 4 p.m. ET Saturday, the Cardinals made a deal to solidify the quarterback job before happy hour started on Friday. I’m sure the memories of 2014 are seared into the minds of Keim and Arians. Injuries forced them to go to their third and fourth quarterbacks, which led to a dismal offensive performance in the playoffs. A third quarterback is important, even though the better odds are that he doesn’t play a down.
Barkley isn’t the answer in the what-if scenario.
Arians isn’t scheduled to talk to the media until Tuesday. A lot can happen between now and then, but the reasoning for the trade will be explained then.
Late in minicamp, Thomas wasn’t in Arians’ good graces. He got pulled from drills, then sat out rotations as Sims narrowed the gap between them. Yet, for as up-and-down a practice player as Thomas was, he showed significant improvement during preseason games.
“The last two weeks I thought he played in the games more than capable,” Arians said.
He added, “He throws the ball hard but he’s always been able to dink it down when he needed to.”
Here’s the thing: Thomas wasn’t great. At times he wasn’t good. But Barkley hasn’t been good either through his career.
Thomas showed enough progress during this camp and preseason to give him an opportunity to be that third quarterback when needed. (The same can be said of Sims.) And Thomas was supposed to be the quarterback of the future. It’s hard to build and develop Carson Palmer’s replacement when he’s not on the roster.