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NFL.com: Cardinals need Palmer to return to contend for Super Bowl LII

Feb 2, 2017, 6:07 PM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) walks off the field after an NFL football game agai...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said he’d be back in 2017, but the return of Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer is still in question.

In an article that detailed the one thing each NFC team can do to hit Super Bowl LII, NFL.com analyst Gregg Rosenthal wrote that Palmer coming back would put the Cardinals in decent shape for Super Bowl contention.

With Larry Fitzgerald choosing to play again in 2017, the Cardinals need their quarterback to join him. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Palmer is considering walking away at age 37, in part because of injuries. It’s extremely rare for a player like Palmer to leave guaranteed money on the table, much less the $17.5 million Palmer is due. (Then again, the amount of money Palmer has earned in his career is also extremely rare.)

Palmer quietly performed like a top-10 quarterback in the second half of this past season. He wasn’t the problem in Arizona and cranky Cardinals fans wanting to see what’s behind quarterback door No. 2 might not like what they find. There is still enough talent in the desert to make a title run with Palmer.

There may be some truth to that. The Cardinals had a down year with a 7-8-1 record, but Palmer actually put together a decent season with a strong finish..

In the last eight games of the season, Palmer played well. He threw for 2,165 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions and led the Cardinals to a pair of road wins to finish the season, in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Palmer has shown he’s at least capable at his age, although he definitely wasn’t perfect.

Overall, he threw for 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2016. While not bad, they fall short in comparison to his 2015 campaign, when he was an MVP candidate after throwing for 4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

In 2015, he was named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro. Palmer did not repeat those accolades last season.

While some fans are probably uneasy about another year with Palmer, there’s no sure-fire guarantee that a rookie or free agent pickup will have success.

Furthermore, the Cardinals still have a pretty loaded roster that includes running back David Johnson and a talented defense.

There is no official timetable with regards to when Palmer will make a decision, though it probably will not take too much longer. If he does return, the Cardinals might be in solid shape going forward. But if he doesn’t, Rosenthal thinks it will negatively impact the Cardinals’ chances of playing in Super Bowl LII.

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NFL.com: Cardinals need Palmer to return to contend for Super Bowl LII