A day after their head coach decided to retire, the Arizona Cardinals are dealing with another departure.
“For 15 years I have been lucky enough to play quarterback in the NFL, and it has been the most incredible experience of my life,” he wrote. “There wasn’t one second that I took it for granted or failed to appreciate what a tremendous privilege it is. Now it’s time for something else, and I’m excited to find out exactly what that will be.”
Palmer spent five years at the University of South California, winning the Heisman Trophy in his senior season and breaking multiple school records. He was selected first overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, making the playoffs three times and earning two Pro Bowl trips in the process.
However, during the 2006 playoffs, Palmer’s promising career was jeopardized after a low hit to the knee by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman Kimo von Oelhoffen, which caused tears to his ACL and MCL. While he was able to recover in time for the next season, it began a history of injuries that continually bothered Palmer for the rest of his career.
His tenure with the Bengals ended in 2011 after he requested a trade during the offseason and was denied by management. Consequently, the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton to replace him, and Palmer sat out on the did-not-report list until he was traded to the Oakland Raiders in October. He spent the rest of that season and 2012 with the team before another trade sent him to the Cardinals, where he’s been ever since.
During his time in Arizona, Palmer retore his ACL and suffered a broken arm, the latter occurring this season. Despite flashes of success (three Pro Bowls, over 46,000 passing yards, 294 touchdown passes), it’s inarguable that injuries held him back from true greatness. Still, he was a reliable signal caller for the majority of his time in the league and holds a good deal of respect amongst his current and former teammates.
The Cardinals now sit at a crossroads. They’ll be picking 15th in the upcoming draft with a fairly deep class of QB prospects incoming. However, they also have a solid nucleus that could compete given the right circumstances, and there are a few free agent QBs worth chasing; Kirk Cousins could be moving on from Washington, and the three Minnesota Vikings QBs (Case Keenum, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater) are all worthy starters. It’ll be interesting to see which direction the team takes.