3 issues the Cardinals MUST address this offseason

The sobering reality of playoff football is one team advances while the other cleans out their locker room and hangs it up for the offseason.

While Bruce Arians is a trendy candidate to win the Coach of the Year award, the Arizona Cardinals’ 11-win season was cut short after injuries hijacked any hope of a deep postseason run.

Turning the page to the offseason, FOXSports.com takes a look at the three most pressing issues facing Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim and Co.:

Fixing the QB situation: Days after Carson Palmer inked a three-year contract extension, the 12-year veteran tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Palmer, who led the Cardinals to an 8-1 record before sustaining the injury, will be back with the Cardinals next season as some of his roster bonus has already been paid. There’s concern, however, over whether a 35-year-old will ever fully recover from his second major knee injury. With Drew Stanton, Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas on the roster, should Arians be planning for the future after experiencing the horrors of poor quarterback play? With a draft pick in the 20s and a thin free-agency crop, Keim, Arians and longtime respected offensive consultant Tom Moore could be searching for the desert’s next gun.

LET'S GET WILD

Figuring out Larry Fitzgerald’s future: As FOX Sports Arizona’s Craig Morgan reported this week, Fitzgerald doesn’t expect to be with the Cardinals next season. While Keim said he has no plans to cut Fitzgerald despite a budget-sinking $23.6 million cap number, the legendary Arizona receiver may have played his last football in red and white. Fitzgerald isn’t happy with his current role, according to Morgan’s report, and the team has invested high draft picks in receivers in recent years, including Michael Floyd and John Brown. An unpopular decision with the fanbase could be coming.

Keeping continuity on defense: It’s only natural that when teams win, other try to poach. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has become a hot name for head-coaching jobs in recent weeks and the team will have a tough time retaining him, despite giving him a contract extension through 2017 earlier this season. Regardless, if Bowles stays in Arizona, the team must make a decision on impending free agents defensive tackle Dan Williams and cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The defense will be bolstered by an aggressive secondary and the likely returns of season-long suspended linebacker Daryl Washington and injured Darnell Dockett (torn ACL).