By Jerrell Richardson
Name: Carson Palmer – QB – #3
Weight: 235 lbs.
Hometown: Fresno, CA
College: Southern California
Experience: 11 years
Since the departure of Kurt Warner in 2009, Arizona has had six different players under center, and last year, none of them played well enough to hold onto the job for more than five games.
After a disastrous 2012, the Arizona Cardinals started rebuilding with their first priority, a quarterback.
They addressed it by adding Carson Palmer to their roster. This move makes the entire team better, and gaining stability at such a crucial position should pay dividends for the Cardinals moving forward. However, will Palmer be able to correct the trend of his career, in which he performs statistically well, while the team loses?
The NFL revolves around winning. Something Palmer is not too familiar with due to his previous teams. He has competed in the tough AFC North and AFC West divisions, but those aren’t nearly as harsh as the NFC West. The Cardinals will have one fourth of their season against arguably the most talented teams in the league, the 49ers and the Seahawks.
Carson had an unusual path to wind up in a Cardinals uniform. Palmer will be with his third team in his 10-year career, and hopes to have more success than his prior stops.
After a legendary collegiate career at USC and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2002, the Bengals selected him with the first pick of the 2003 NFL Draft. After sitting his entire rookie campaign learning from veteran quarterback Jon Kitna, it took him just two years to turn the “Bunguls” into a legitimate contender. The 2005 playoff run by the Bengals ended prematurely when a severe knee injury on the first play of the wildcard round playoff game knocked Palmer out of the game, destroying any chance the team had of a Lombardi Trophy.
His injury was diagnosed as an ACL and MCL tear, thought by some to be career threatening.
He bounced back though; not only did he make it back to the field well ahead of schedule, but the next season was also Palmer’s best year as a pro, although the same could not be said for his team.
The Bengals struggled, finishing a modest 8-8, and Palmer earned his second straight Pro Bowl selection. His regular season was nothing short of spectacular––he threw for 4,035 yards and 28 touchdowns, and found himself looking at a very high ceiling on a promising career.
It all came crashing down and over the next few years. Not only did his play on the field decline, injuries stacked up against Palmer again, and he went from the Cincinnati savior to just another player who wore out his welcome.
Things hit rock bottom in 2010. When Cincinnati finished 4-12, Palmer requested a trade, threatening to retire if he wasn’t granted a trade. He wasn’t. After telling Head Coach Marvin Lewis that he planned to retire, Marvin Lewis responded by drafting quarterback Andy Dalton out of TCU and wide receiver A.J. Green out of Georgia. After months of waiting for the right deal, the Bengals dealt Palmer to the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders were struggling and looked to Carson as their new long term quarterback; he never solidified his position on the depth chart after a 4-5 finish.
The following year, the Raiders went 4-12 and after it was all said and done, Palmer had a less than impressive 8-15 record in black and silver.
So why should the Cardinals be ecstatic?
Despite his statistical decline in recent years, Carson Palmer, on his worst day, is a major upgrade from the four different quarterbacks who played for the Cardinals last year. How that is even possible with Larry Fitzgerald on the field is baffling. If he does nothing else, Palmer will get Fitzgerald the ball often, and the downfall of this team will not be the lack of a passing attack.
With defenses forced to respect the Cardinals’ ability to move the ball through the air it will open holes for the running game, and it’s easy to see why Arizona took a chance on the 33-year-old. Nobody can say how much, but there is no doubt that he makes the entire team better.
The question is, can he lead this team to wins?
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. His work can be found on Examiner.com.