The National Football League’s Cardinals have played 25 seasons in the state of Arizona.
In those 25 seasons, 28 different quarterbacks have started a game for the team.
Of those 28 different quarterbacks, just one — Kurt Warner — threw for more than 4,000 yards in a Cardinals uniform (once), and only Warner tossed more than 21 touchdowns in a single season (three times).
In the franchise’s history, only two quarterbacks have eclipsed 4,000 yards and just seven times has a passer thrown for more than 21 touchdowns.
Carson Palmer, whom the Cardinals just traded for Tuesday, passed for 4,018 yards and 22 touchdowns last season as an Oakland Raider. If he posted those stats in Arizona, his season would go down in the annals of the team’s history as one of the best of all-time.
That right there says two things: one, the team’s history at the position is, well, dreadful. And two, Palmer, at 33, still has quite a bit left in the tank.
And for the record, Warner was 33 when the Cardinals signed him back in 2005 (and turned 34 before he ever took a snap for the team). Can lightning strike twice?
This is not to say Palmer is guaranteed to become the next Warner, but he arrives with similar baggage. An older QB whose best days appear to be behind him, Palmer was had for conditional late picks because few believe he’s capable of playing at an elite level and leading a team.
Warner was available as a free agent for similar reasons.
In Arizona, Palmer will have an offense that fits his style of play, a Pro Bowl receiver to throw the ball to and a coach who believes in him. Oh, he’ll also probably have a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
The one thing he does not appear to have is a stable offensive line in front of him, though head coach Bruce Arians has expressed great confidence in the group and also has the seventh overall selection in the upcoming draft at his disposal. And note, you do not go out and acquire an old, pocket-passing quarterback without making sure your offensive line can keep him upright.
At the very least, you have to once again give the Cardinals credit. Two years ago they paid a hefty price to acquire Kevin Kolb, who was an unproven QB some thought to be the best on the market; now they paid a bargain-basement price for Palmer, who has 29,465 yards, 189 touchdowns and a pair of Pro Bowls on his résumé.
For a team that has tried various options in replacing Warner — a high draft pick (Matt Leinart), a cannon-armed former Pro Bowler (Derek Anderson), an undrafted free agent (Max Hall), a late-round pick with a strong arm (John Skelton) or a high-profile player just waiting for an opportunity (Kevin Kolb) — it appears the Cardinals have finally decided the best way to replace Warner is to try and find the next one.
And that could be Palmer.
While he may not lead the Cardinals to the same heights Warner did, you can’t fault the Cardinals for trying. After all, given what we’ve seen at the position the last three years, mere competence will be a refreshing upgrade that could, get this team back to the postseason.
The good news is Palmer has proven himself to be better than competent.
Look at it this way: an “average” Palmer season is roughly 3,274 yards with 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
The yardage total would place Palmer 11th on the team’s all-time list; the touchdowns would put him in a tie for eighth.
Who wouldn’t take that?