Signing, or Trading for Carson Palmer Would Set Arizona Back in a Big Way
Earlier today I wrote about newly appointed general manager Steve Keim and the outstanding job he has done in just two short months on the job. He has released deadbeat players who were brought in by the previous regime, cut ties with a vested veteran who will someday go into Arizona's ring of honor and he is now apparently searching high and low for the organization's next quarterback.
What more could Cardinals fans ask for? Apparently a lot more based on the fact that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes Arizona could be a front-runner for Carson Palmer if the Raiders part ways with the nine-year veteran. If this sentiment rings true, I might have to renounce my entire article from this afternoon.
Florio sites a weak free-agent class among quarterbacks as to the Cardinals reasoning behind the apparent interest. Keim and head coach Bruce Arians must also feel that they won't have a legitimate shot at getting ''their" guy in the draft. Or they might feel Palmer would make a good bridge until their quarterback of the future is ready.
But doesn't Arizona already have a bridge?
Kevin Kolb, to me, is that bridge. At this point we all know what his ceiling is. Sure, he's not worth the contract he was given two years ago, but he does have some value. Last year, before getting hurt against the Bills, he won three games as a starter and mounted an impressive comeback victory against the Seahawks. Not to mention the Cardinals only won one game after his injury.
Fans and media members alike seemingly enjoy bashing Kolb because of his big contract, I get that, but that doesn't mean Keim should dump him in favor of a 33-year-old quarterback who hasn't played at an elite level since George W. Bush was in office. By doing so, the Cards front office would be making a lateral move at the most important position on the field.
Moreover, this move would almost certainly imply one of two things: Kolb would be cut before March 16, as he has a $2 million roster bonus due, and Arizona would be able to pick Palmer up as a free agent. I say that because it's not a forgone conclusion that he will hit the open market. He is still under contract with the Raiders until 2016, so they could simply keep him or trade him if they desired to.
I have a hard time seeing anyone trading for Palmer, but according to Florio, one shouldn't rule out a possible deal. Oakland is trying to shop No. 3 at a reduced rate both in terms of contractual figures and trade compensation. The Raiders realize they won't ever get back what they got for him in their 2011 trade with Cincinnati, yet at this point, getting even a seventh-round pick for him is better than nothing.
The only part of a potential trade that should interest the Cardinals is the fact Palmer would be open to a huge pay cut and restructuring. Because at $13 million a season, he would have absolutely zero value to them. His base salary would have to likely be cut in half for Arizona to show an ounce of interest. This is also under the assumption that Kolb has moved on. There's no way both high-dollar quarterbacks would be on the roster at the same time.
Even at a 50 percent salary cut, a decision to move on him should be considered questionable. Palmer's numbers since coming to Oakland—behind an offensive line that is in similar shape to the Cardinals—have been average at best. In 25 games for the Raiders, Palmer piled up 6,771 yards, passed for 35 touchdowns and threw 30 interceptions.
The interception rate is a tad bit alarming, but playing from behind more often than not forced the former No. 1 overall pick into making some bad decisions. But when you turn on his game film you realize his decision-making was erratic, regardless of the situation. There were multiple games in both 2011 and 2012 in which he threw more than one interception.
Would things get any better if he played in Arians' system? It's doubtful because of his offensive scheme. Arians loves the long ball, and he loves taking shots down the field. Whenever I think of Palmer taking shots down the field all I can think of is his interception numbers climbing even higher than they did before.
I get what attracts Arians to Palmer—the live arm. But a live arm isn't any good if it can't produce an accurate throw. Which right now is Palmer's biggest downfall. The best thing Keim and the organization can do is to walk away from this whole situation, plain and simple.
Stick with Kolb or find a kid you like in the draft. End of story.
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