Our sources in the desert told us before his first pro start in Week 14 that they didn't think there was anything John Skelton would do the rest of the season to keep the Cardinals from making a new starting quarterback for next season their top priority.
The fifth-round rookie out of Fordham, who has been compared by some observers to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, displayed some intriguing flashes in his pro debut in the Cardinals' 43-13 victory over the Broncos.
But there wasn't anything intriguing about Skelton's shaky losing effort one week later, matched up against Carolina's Jimmy Clausen, a major work in progress in his own right.
"I think the Roethlisberger comparisons are because of his size (6-5, 244 pounds) and strong arm, and he's shown that he's pretty good moving around in the pocket," said one team insider of Skelton, who missed his share of wide-open receivers against Carolina.
"But as far as reading defenses and really understanding the offense, he still has a long way to go."
Which brings up the question everybody has been asking for weeks now in Arizona: With Derek Anderson considered as good as gone after this season and Skelton shaping up as a backup for probably a couple more seasons, who will be the Cardinals' starting QB in 2011?
"I look for them to flood the position with both a veteran addition via free agency or trade and a high pick in the draft," the insider said. "The team isn't saying much at all — aside from being consistent about their lack of interest in Donovan McNabb."
Word is the veteran that has probably been mentioned the most behind the scenes is Marc Bulger, who is currently backing up Joe Flacco in Baltimore. On the street, three other increasingly popular names are Carson Palmer and Matt Hasselbeck, who are considered by many to be expendable in Cincinnati and Seattle, respectively, and — probably the sexiest possibility — the Eagles' Kevin Kolb, for whom the Cardinals would have to likely make a trade.
"I don't know about a Kolb trade," the insider said. "They would probably have to give up a lot of draft picks for him, and with the team having so many needs to fill, that might not go over real well."