Cardinals Need Carson Palmer’s Replacement

Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Carson Palmer might have reached the end of his career.

Prior to this season, in August, the Arizona Cardinals gave quarterback Carson Palmer a one-year extension, meaning he was signed through the 2018 season. He was coming off of a season in which he set career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, quarterback rating, and most importantly, wins. So, the extension wasn’t a surprise, or unwarranted. As this season has played out, they might be re-thinking things.

So far, the 2016 season has not gone as expected, for anybody. The team, expected to be a Super Bowl contender, is 4-6-1, and hanging onto playoff hopes by a thread. They are three games behind the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West, and two wins behind the second wild card spot. They’ve been especially bad on the road, and three of their final five games are away from home, including one in Seattle. Things don’t look promising.

As for Palmer himself, he’s having one of his worst years as a professional. He’s down in pretty much every statistical category. His 60.9% completion percentage is his worst since 2011, his 7.1 yards per attempt is the worst since 2012, and his 83.3 passer rating is his worst since 2011. He’s also not producing touchdowns. Only 3.6% of his passes have been for touchdown, and that number is the lowest of his career, except for the 2008 season in which he only played four games due to injury. He has also been especially bad on the road, having lost all four starts away from Arizona.

Palmer will have a cap hit of over $20 million over the 2017-2018 seasons. He’ll also turn 37 years old before the end of the current season. The Cardinals have struggled with injuries along the offensive line, that has led to some of Palmer’s struggles, but his decision-making has been questionable, even under optimal conditions. Just how much leeway he has, is questionable, and his release would create quite a bit of dead money for the team.

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The Cardinals don’t have a replacement on the roster, and the upcoming NFL Draft might not have a viable option. That leaves free agency, and no sure answers there either. It seems that, barring unforeseen circumstances, Palmer will be back in 2017. With some help, he could certainly improve, but the fact is, the future of the quarterback position in Arizona is murky. The Cardinals need to find Palmer’s replacement, but they might not be able to do so quite yet.