TEMPE, Ariz. — Carson Palmer was a teammate of Darnell Dockett’s for just two seasons, the second of which was cut short for each player due to torn ACLs.
Seeing the defensive lineman leave for the San Francisco 49ers Thursday is something the quarterback said was a “tough loss.”
“I only had a chance to play with him for a couple of years,” he said while speaking to the media Thursday from the team’s Tempe training facility. “He’s a great teammate, great player, but I’ve been in this game long enough to understand the business side of it.
“Unfortunately, that’s just part of the deal.”
The Cardinals cut Dockett last week, deciding to take their chances with him hitting the open market rather than pay him the $6.8 million he was slated to earn in 2015.
His new deal with the 49ers is for two-years and $7.5 million, with $4 million of that coming in the first year and $2 million guaranteed.
It’s a far cry less than what he was scheduled to earn, but for a guy who will be 34 when the new season begins and missed the entire previous season due to a knee injury, it’s not exactly an unreasonable number.
However, Dockett had been a fixture with the franchise since being selected in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft out of Florida State, as he went on to record 530 total tackles, 40.5 sacks, four interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles with the team.
“Now it’s our job to find shoes to fill, and Darnell’s got big shoes to fill,” Palmer said. “Sometimes you don’t find those shoes to fill that year; you don’t replace that guy with the next guy. Sometimes you’ve got to get better on the back end to help out the front seven, whatever it may be, but it’s tough obviously losing Darnell, a great player here for a long time, and like I said, we’ve got big shoes to fill.”
Of course, Dockett leaving would have been interesting enough for the Cardinals, but that he chose to head to the 49ers — a division rival — made the story a bit more juicy.
Palmer admitted Dockett’s move will make the rivalry between the teams even more intense — at least for Dockett — but noted that the NFC West is already tough. Whlie matchups with the 49ers may now carry some added intrigue, there will be no lack of motivation for anyone when divisional games are on the line.
But again, there’s little doubt Dockett will be excited to show the Cardinals what they gave up on. Palmer said he and the defensive lineman exchanged texts Thursday morning, but that his former teammate did not talk any trash to him.
“No, no, it was very political,” Palmer said. “We’ll talk trash later. It’s too early for talking trash.”