For the first time in a while, the Arizona Cardinals appear to be entering the offseason set at the quarterback position.
Carson Palmer is the guy right now and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
The 34-year-old completed 63.3 percent of his passes last season while throwing for 4,274 yards and 24 touchdowns. His 22 interceptions were tied for second-most in the NFL, while his rating of 83.9 placed him 20th.
In short, Palmer was good enough to lead the Cardinals to a 10-win season, and his play over the second half of the campaign, where he completed 65.3 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, gave reason to believe the best may be yet to come for the veteran in Arizona.
A guest of the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Monday live from radio row in New York, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio agreed that the Cardinals aren’t in dire need of a new signal caller.
“My opinion has always been he’s a great regular season quarterback that, for whatever reason, can’t find success in the postseason,” he said, adding that the postseason failures are not necessarily attributable to Palmer and that you actually have to make it to the playoffs first before one can succeed or struggle. “The Cardinals are in a tough spot. With the Seahawks, the Rams and the 49ers, that is a tough, tough division. I joked all year long they’d love to go back to the NFC East if they could, at this point.”
A veteran of nine NFL seasons, Palmer has appeared in just two playoff games, both as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals and both losses.
However, he was injured while completing a 66-yard pass in one of them and had to leave the game, and in the other he completed 18-of-36 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
So really, his playoff résumé shows a lack of experience more than anything else.
But for the Cardinals, the question is if Palmer will continue to be effective enough to get the team to the playoffs, and Florio thinks there’s no reason to believe the former USC Trojan will suffer a significant dropoff any time soon, meaning there’s no desperation to find a replacement just yet.
“I think Carson Palmer’s got a few good years left in him,” he said. “The question is, if you don’t have Carson Palmer as your quarterback, who are you going to have? You’re going to roll the dice on a rookie.”
Florio noted the inexact science the draft is. Even with the advancements made in scouting, stars like Russell Wilson fall in the draft while “busts” end up being selected in the first round.
With the Cardinals looking to contend and holding the 20th pick in May’s draft, it may be wise to focus on a greater area of need with perhaps less risk involved.
“You don’t know whether that guy you would take at number 20 is going to come in and help you,” Florio said. “When you have a team that is close — and that’s the struggle I see with the Cardinals right now: win now vs. build for the future.
“But you know what? If you don’t win now, you’re not going to have a future; you’re not going to be there for the future.”