Arizona might use No. 3 pick to draft a QB

Updated: February 5, 2004, 2:59 AM ET
Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It wasn't what Jeff Blake did while leading the Arizona Cardinals that led to his downfall. It was more what coach Dennis Green thinks Josh McCown has the potential to do.

At a news conference Wednesday, Green said he had terminated the last two years of Blake's contract and decided after analyzing game film to make McCown the starter.

"When you bring a player in, you expect him to be in a developmental stage, and I think Josh has done that," Green said. "But now, in year three, he's ready to step in and be the starter. He has a lot of outstanding tools to do well in the NFL. He's got a quick release, he has the size, he has the height, he has the speed, he has the athletic ability, and I think he has the gunslinger mentality."

Green, who refused to discuss Blake's shortcomings, said the switch will have no bearing on whether the Cardinals draft a quarterback in April, when they will have the No. 3 pick overall.

"You don't try to outsmart yourself. You take the best player on the board, because you're always going to get a great player." Green said. "Whether that player is a quarterback or not is irrelevant; you can never have too many good players. And no matter who comes in -- whether it's an eight-year veteran or a 22-year-old rookie -- Josh McCown knows that they want his job."

But Green reiterated that any newcomer would arrive as McCown's backup.

Green had offensive coordinator Alex Wood deliver the news to Blake and said he had no idea whether the development surprised the 12-year veteran.

"I'm sure if a player really wanted to be here he'd hope that it would work out," Green said. "But we have to be realistic. The first thing I said when I stood up here is that we will always take a realistic look at our talent and the decision we have to make according to that talent. We also said we think we have the talent on this team to be good, but we're going to have to really work to bring it out of them."

Blake's number is unlisted, and Ralph Cindrich, his agent, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The waiver was Green's first major player move since he replaced Dave McGinnis on Jan. 7.

Blake signed a $7.5 million, three-year contract, including a $1.5 million signing bonus, last March 12. The move saved the team $3 million over the next two years -- $2 million in salary each of the next two years, offset by $500,000 a year that Blake's bonus will count against the salary cap.

Blake arrived as the intended replacement for Jake Plummer, who left for Denver.

But McGinnis benched Blake at halftime on Dec. 7, after San Francisco took a 34-0 lead on the way to a 50-14 win, and McCown started the last three games.

Blake completed 208 of 367 passes for 2,247 yards, 13 TDs and 15 interceptions -- throwing more pickoffs than scores for the first time in his career. He also ran for 177 yards and two TDs on 30 carries.

Blake spent 1992-93 with the New York Jets and also played for Cincinnati (1994-99), New Orleans (2000-01) and Baltimore (2002).

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press