On Thursday, Carson Palmer announced he would return to the Cardinals for the 2017 season.
It will be Palmer’s fifth in the desert and, while it might also be his last, it will also give him the same number of Cardinals campaigns as Kurt Warner.
Warner, you may recall, was pretty good for the Cardinals — especially his last couple of seasons — and last Saturday was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While it would be fun to compare the two passers, each of whom has led their respective teams to a fair amount of success, in some ways it would be silly to do so.
They played in different eras, after all, with different coaches, schemes and personnel around them.
One constant between them has been receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was in the early parts of his career during Warner’s tenure and seems to be wrapping things up with Palmer.
Not surprisingly, Fitzgerald has been productive with both quarterbacks. Apparently both Warner and Palmer realized that it was in their best interests to get the ball to No. 11, and Fitzgerald has rewarded them.
Looking at the statistics (which do not include playoff games), it is important to remember a few things.
One, while Warner has an extra season on Palmer, he was essentially a part-time player until roughly his final three seasons in Arizona. Palmer, however, missed more than half of the 2014 season due to injury.
Also, the two had very different Fitzgeralds at their disposal.
The receiver’s hands have remained as good as ever, but earlier in his career he lined up outside and ran many of his routes deep down the field. He consistently made big plays, sure, but the catch rate of such passes is not nearly as high as it is for the routes he has run with Palmer coming out of the slot.
There is no telling how much longer the Palmer/Fitzgerald duo will play together. Both considered retirement this offseason, and while Palmer is under contract for 2018, too, Fitzgerald’s deal runs out at the conclusion of this next season.
Regardless, it’s clear that while Fitzgerald certainly suffered through some poor QB play at times in his career, he has also been the beneficiary of getting to play with two of the best passers the Cardinals have ever had.
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