writer ranks Carson Palmer first among players most benefiting from free agency

Mar 19, 2014, 10:02 PM | Updated: 10:02 pm

The NFL free agency period has been friendly to Carson Palmer so far.

After the first week of negotiations between players and teams, the Arizona Cardinals targeted the specific position players they needed, went out and got them.

The 34-year-old quarterback received help on the offensive line with the signing of 6-foot-8 tackle Jared Veldheer, previously with the Oakland Raiders and a former teammate of Palmer’s.’s Chris Wesseling put Palmer on the top of his list of the 12 biggest beneficiaries of free agency, citing the improvements along the offensive line as headlining the offseason moves for the Cardinals and protecting Palmer.

The Cardinals have ranked last in Pro Football Focus’ pass-blocking metrics for two consecutive seasons, with left tackle as a primary culprit. Now the left side will be more than capably manned by a Matterhorn in Jared Veldheer and 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper, one of the most athletic guards to enter the NFL in the past decade. General manager Steve Keim recently boasted that Palmer can spin the ball with any quarterback in the league when he has time. That claim will be put to the test in 2014.

After suffering a broken leg in a preseason game last season, Jonathan Cooper was forced to miss the entire year. As the seventh overall pick in last year’s draft, Cooper is expected to line up to the right of Veldheer on the new and improved offensive line.

Wide receiver Ted Ginn and running back Jonathan Dwyer were also signed as free agents, adding offensive options for Palmer to use.

Palmer, who was ranked ahead of quarterbacks Matthew Stafford, Joe Flacco, Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill on the list, now has the weapons and protection to improve on last year’s 10-6 campaign.

Finishing on the verge of the postseason last year, the Cardinals have focused on their areas of weakness and are making a strong case for Arizona as an enticing free agent destination.

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