Who’s going to replace Carson Palmer at quarterback for the Cardinals? It’s the $64,000 question the club needs to answer — and answer now.

While it’s not yet clear whether Palmer will return for another season, it doesn’t really matter. He’s a 37-year-old quarterback who has taken a beaten during his career. The end is drawing near–whether it’s this year, next year or even the year after.

John: We already know Drew Stanton isn’t the right guy to take over. He has tossed more picks than touchdowns in his career while completing barely over half his passes.

So, even if Palmer comes back, they’re screwed if he gets hurt. And the poor guy got sacked 40 times last year.

Where does that leave the Cards? At minimum, they need to draft a QB. Word is they have interest in Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. That’d be a fantastic move for the future, though it’s probably a long shot to think he’ll slide to No. 13.

If they don’t draft a rookie in the first round, they should strongly consider a guy like Patrick Mahomes in the 2nd (even if they have to move up a few spots). And they should sign a more capable backup to replace Stanton, too.

In the event Palmer does retire, it’s time to panic. And, as a result, the Cards would likely near the top of the list of teams pursuing Tony Romo. If not him, you’re looking at Jay Cutler, Tyrod Taylor, Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick – basically just scrambling to stop the bleeding.

The Cards took a massive step back in 2016, falling from 13-3 to 7-8-1 despite a steady defense and the presence of an elite, young offensive playmaker in David Johnson. And they could be in line to slide even further if they don’t shore things up at QB quickly.

Andy: Yep, it’s a mess – but it also could be a massive opportunity for Romo. I think his age is going to play against him in most cases. Why would a San Francisco or a New York Jets team sign or trade for the aging QB when they know they are going to be going through significant rebuilds.

There had seemed to be more veteran QBs – Romo, Cutler, Taylor – than there were teams in need until these Palmer retirement rumors started spreading. Houston probably would be a target if they could find a way to afford one. The Broncos could look to improve on Trevor Siemian. But a Cardinals team – assuming Larry Fitzgerald comes back – still has the weapons in John Brown, JJ Nelson and the aforementioned David Johnson to contend, if they can get back to the level of QB play Palmer sustained through his great 2015 season.

Arizona would appear to have the salary cap space to make such a deal happen too. So, while I agree with John’s assessment that this team should draft a QB relatively high, don’t be at all surprised to see this team make a play for one of the vets.

Long-term, I’m intrigued by the Watson option. While they might be best served in 2017 drafting to fill a need that would help compete in the upcoming season, Watson just seems to have that “it” factor that people talk about. And maybe if they take a guy like that, they may be able to convince Fitz and Head Coach Bruce Arians that instead of leaving together, the latter two might have reasons to stick around when Palmer does eventually hang ‘em up.

And I do think there is still a window for this team to contend and they aren’t going to waste that time trying to make something out of Drew Stanton.

John: Yeah, Arizona’s window would still be open – at least a crack. Romo would be a logical replacement, and I’m sure he’d be near the top of their list. But would they be at the top of his?

If I’m Romo, I’d much rather rip a play out of Peyton Manning’s playbook and head to Denver for a shot at a championship. And if Houston can find a way to get out from under Brock Osweiler’s contract, I’d rather go there, too. The means Arizona might only be Romo’s third best option, unless he chooses based on golf courses, which is possible.

Of course, that’s assuming Romo gets to choose. Dallas will probably make every effort to trade him before releasing him, and Arizona might be willing to give something up–say a 2nd or 3rd round pick–to guarantee they land the guy they want. I doubt Denver or Houston would.

Andy: I actually think Romo would, or at least should, find Arizona a decent option. Despite the sacks, Pro Football Focus ranked the Cardinals’ offensive line among the top quarter in the league in 2016, better than its counterparts in Denver and Houston. The weather in Phoenix is less extreme than that in Denver. And David Johnson, Fitz and a solid defensive core are a pretty good surrounding cast. Romo and Watson could give this team a winning formula that could last a few years into the future.

John: And, hey, Romo’s an avid golfer, which could work in the Cards’ favor, especially as he nears retirement. He’ll find better courses in Phoenix than he would in Buffalo (or Denver or Houston, for that matter).