TEMPE, Ariz. — A lot went down for the Arizona Cardinals Tuesday.
The first day of free agency, the team brought in a left tackle and lost a linebacker. It re-signed a tight end, defensive tackle and kicker but released a guard and saw a receiver leave town. This comes off a weekend that saw it ink a tight end to a contract.
No doubt this is just the beginning, as there are plenty of moves still yet to be made.
But one move the team won’t make is for a quarterback. Hell, you won’t even so much as read a rumor.
Call it the Carson Palmer effect.
For the first time really since Jake Plummer was under center for the Cardinals, there is no doubt about the position as the team heads into the new league year.
There is no stopgap free agent signing like Jeff Blake. The team will not be handing the keys over to an unproven signal caller such as Josh McCown or Matt Leinart. Any trade ideas involving the “next great quarterback” will not involve Arizona. And there are few people wondering if Palmer has anything left in the tank. Similar questions arose when Kurt Warner signed on the dotted line with Arizona following a not-so-stellar stint with the New York Giants.
And even the offseason after Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, there was some question of whether or not he would return or leave for the San Francisco 49ers, whom he paid a free agent visit.
Really, since Plummer’s five-year run as the undisputed starter, the Cardinals have never really entered an offseason settled at the position.
Until now, that is.
Palmer’s success in 2013, his reasonable contract and last spring’s signing of Drew Stanton, means the team is pretty set at the position, save for maybe a young quarterback to bring on as a project.
After all, can the Cardinals really expect to find better than 4,274 yards, 24 touchdowns, a completion percentage of 63.3 and a QB rating of 83.9?
The short answer is no, they can’t. And they don’t have to.
So, GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians can spend their time addressing other needs. We’ve already seen it with the signings of John Carlson and Jared Veldheer, and the free agency period is still in its infancy. Both players fill a need, and neither one was signed to an outrageous contract.
Perhaps having stability at quarterback helped entice Carlson, a pass-catching tight end, to sign, and there’s little doubt Palmer’s presence helped convince his former Raiders teammate Veldheer to leave Oakland for Arizona. And before those two signed, Larry Fitzgerald agreed to a restructured contract, thereby freeing up more cap space for the team. Think that happens if the team was still searching for someone to throw him the ball?
Now, will either of the new players signed Tuesday make the Cardinals’ offense elite? No. But they will make the offense better, and it wasn’t bad last season.
Where the Cardinals go from here is anyone’s guess. They had about $18 million in salary cap space heading into Tuesday, though that number will change with the subtraction of Daryn Colledge and addition of Veldheer and others. They could also focus on their own players, perhaps deciding to extend Patrick Peterson’s contract.
Whatever they choose to do, though, none of it will have anything to do with the quarterback other than maybe helping him do his job.
Because there is no doubt the job belongs to Palmer, and the team is better off for it.