BY: ED COLE
PHOENIX – Drew Stanton took a stroll into free agency, and he found out that phrase, “The grass is not always greener on the other side,” is actually a true statement.
“I didn’t want to leave (the Cardinals),” Stanton said. “I wanted to see what else was out there. This was far and away the best situation for me.”
On Tuesday, Stanton and the Cardinals came to an contract agreement that will keep him in place with the team for at least two more years.
It seemed like Stanton’s deal came down pretty quickly, as the team announced the deal before the start of the new league year.
Stanton doesn’t share that sentiment of quickness with his new deal.
“It came down quickly it seemed like for you guys, but for me, it didn’t seem that quick,” Stanton said. “The talks opened up, and it went kind of slow, and then all of a sudden, on Tuesday, it progressed quickly, and my agent (Mike McCartney) was like, ‘We’re going to probably make a decision between the Cardinals, and a few other teams,’ at that point and time. I just had to sit back, talk with my wife, and realize what was going to be the best situation (for us).”
In the beginning, Stanton says there was “a good amount” of interest in him from teams looking for a solid, reliable, backup quarterback. As time moved on, however, things started to take a different turn for Stanton with those same teams.
“For the backup quarterback market, sometimes it depends on what those top tier free agents do, and how much money they have left to spend for other positions,” Stanton said. “A couple of teams that said they were interested, kind of evaporated after they made trades, and didn’t have money left over to really invest in the backup quarterback position. That’s the way it goes, and it unfolded, and everything happens for a reason, (and) I’m glad to be back here.”
Stanton’s not a fool. He knows that as long as Carson Palmer has two healthy arms, two healthy legs, a healthy heart, and can see, he’s the No. 1 option at quarterback for this team. So even though Stanton’s slated to be Palmer’s backup for a fourth straight season in 2016, that’s all good with him.
“I’ve got a clear, etched out role for myself right now, and I know what that is, and I’ve embraced it, and I enjoy doing what I can do,” Stanton said. “A lot of it goes unseen, and I’m fine with that. Working hard amongst my teammates, and trying to bring everybody else along, and be a sounding board for Carson (Palmer), for (Cardinals quarterbacks coach) Freddie (Kitchens), for (Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold) Goody (Goodwin), for everybody else involved, and trying to pull everybody in the same direction. Sometimes I gotta take a young guy under my wing, or sometimes I just have to clarify some things for people. Really, just trying to be everything that I can be to help us win football games on Sunday.”
Stanton has a thousand reasons why he decided to return to the Cardinals. It was hard for him to narrow them all down when asked, “Why the Cardinals?” but he did a good job of getting to the basics.
“I think it starts with the ownership,” Stanton said. “It starts with the vision of what he (Cardinals owner and team president Michael Bidwill) has, and how involved he is, and the (rest of) the Bidwill family. They’ve been tremendous to me, and my family, and that goes a long way, and the trickle down effect that you see with what we’re trying to do (with) the little things. The pieces that are in place that might go unnoticed, they’re integral in what I’ve noticed in my nine years in the NFL that make a team better. Obviously, the relationship I have with (Cardinals head coach) B.A. (Bruce Arians). Knowing what kind of man he is, and what he’s going to do, and how he’s going to attack a season is exciting for me to be a part of.”
Now that he’s got the free agency madness out of the way, Stanton can focus on the task at hand, which is helping the Cardinals win their first Super Bowl title.
For Stanton, it really doesn’t matter if he gets to hoist the Lombardi Trophy as a backup quarterback, or as a starting quarterback. He just wants a chance to do it with the Cardinals.
“This is a team game,” Stanton said. “When I got an opportunity to play (as a starter) two years ago, I think it was great, and selfishly it’s awesome, but the selfish portion of my season is done, now that I’ve got my contract worked out, and (I know) where I’m at. Now I’m trying to do everything I can to help put a ring on guys fingers like Carson Palmer (and) Cory Redding. Hopefully we can do that, and we’ll do everything within our power to pull in that direction.”