Carson Palmer is coming off of a career year where he totaled more than 4,600 yards along with 35 touchdowns to 11 interceptions.
Although he’s coming off one of his best regular season’s of his career, the 36-year-old is entering his 13th season.
Has Palmer reached the peak of his bell curve when it comes to his production?
ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters Nick Wagoner (Los Angeles Rams), Michael Wagaman (San Francisco 49ers) and Sheil Kapadia (Seattle Seahawks) were asked how much Palmer has left in the tank.
Wagoner believes that it would be smart for the Cardinals to begin planning for their future as the 2002 Heisman winner closes in on his twilight years.
If this question had been asked before the postseason, I think most would have said Palmer has plenty of gas left in the tank. Then he went out and threw six interceptions and coughed up two fumbles in two playoff games, including a dreadful outing in the NFC Championship Game loss to Carolina.
At 36, Palmer still has plenty left in his arm, but the Cardinals would still be wise to begin planning for the future at quarterback beyond the likes of Drew Stanton and Matt Barkley.
While the future at the quarterback is important to develop, Palmer is still the key to Cardinals’ offensive success.
Wagaman believes that the additions of the offensive line could help not only boost the Cardinals to the Super Bowl but keep Palmer on the field.
If Palmer can stay healthy and upright, he can equal or even surpass last season’s 4,671 passing yards and 35 TD passes with 11 interceptions, especially since all of his weapons return and the offensive line is upgraded with the addition of Evan Mathis. With a short memory, good health and a better supporting cast, Palmer should have enough left for one last Super Bowl-or-bust-type season.
The importance of Palmer’s health is clear in Arizona’s 29-9 record in games he has played. The Cardinals are 5-5 in games without Palmer since 2013.
Kapadia is even more optimistic. He thinks the supporting cast will keep Palmer among the most productive NFL quarterbacks.
At 36 years old, it’s best to go year-to-year with expectations for Palmer, but I’m not expecting a major drop-off in 2016. He stumbled in Week 17 against the Seahawks and in the NFC title game against the Panthers, but overall, Palmer was a legitimate MVP candidate last season. Because of his supporting cast and his ability to win the mental battle against opposing defensive coordinators, Palmer should still be able to have success late in his career.
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