Carson Palmer just needed time.
Time to get away from the disappointing season that was 2016, and time to let his body recover from the punishment it held.
On Thursday, Palmer announced retirement was off the table and he would play in 2017.
On Friday, the 37-year-old joined The Rich Eisen Show and provided more detail on his process.
“I love playing the game, love everything about it, but at some point your body tells you when to stop,” he said. “The season ended, I just went into Steve Keim and to Coach Arians and just asked them if I could take a month and make sure my body was going to get back to 100 percent, make sure my body was going to bounce back and give me another shot at it.
“I took the month and body’s recovered well; I feel great, feel ready to start getting going on the offseason again.”
Palmer added his mind, passion and everything he needs to play are still there, so it was all a matter of being able to physically do what he must to continue playing at a high level.
“You start getting old like me and you start getting gray hair, your body starts telling you no,” he said. “At some point it will, but I’m excited that I’ve responded, my body’s responded, and I get to keep playing.”
A Heisman Trophy winner who went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Palmer has played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Cardinals.
His career has had its ups and downs, but in all, he has thrown for 44,269 yards, 285 touchdowns and 180 interceptions. Among active players, he is seventh in touchdown passes and sixth in passing yards, and has had a bit of a career renaissance in Arizona.
In four seasons with the Cardinals, he has posted a 35-17-1 record as a starter while throwing for 14,804 yards and 96 touchdowns with 50 interceptions.
Palmer returning for a fifth season in Arizona was big for the franchise since it had no obvious successor in place. Backup Drew Stanton has proven serviceable in that role, but after him there is only the inexperienced Zac Dysert. The Cardinals have expressed interest in finding a young quarterback who can be groomed to ultimately replace Palmer, but that player is not yet on the roster.
On Friday, Palmer said his status is really a year-to-year proposition, and while he says he would love to keep playing for maybe even more than just this next season, he understands things could change with time.
Interestingly enough, he joked that a big factor in coming back was, well, change of a different kind that he has dealt with this offseason.
“Three weeks in I think I had changed my 900th diaper, and I started getting a little tendinitis in the left hand from all the diaper changes for my one-year-old, so I got to that point and I started realizing, man, the offseason’s pretty short but retirement’s really long,” he said. “So I’m going to make sure this stays as an offseason, not a retirement.”
Palmer is under contract through the 2018 season, so it is possible this next one will not be his last. With the way quarterbacks are playing into their late 30s and even 40s, would it really be a shock if Palmer, assuming he stayed relatively healthy, would keep going?
Tom Brady, who is 39 and will be 40 by Week 1, just won a Super Bowl after leading the Patriots back from a 25-point halftime deficit against the Falcons.
“Obviously Tom’s always talking about recovery and taking care of his body, and the young guys don’t get it — and I didn’t get it when I was 26, 27,” Palmer said. “But once you get that 30 and you hit 33 and then you keep going, it’s so important; rest, recovery, diet, all the supplements you take.
“But for Tom to be going on 40 and do that, that’s motivation for me and I’m sure the other quarterbacks in the league that are our age. That’s very motivating to see him still doing it because just, naturally, you think ‘I can do it too.'”
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