Starting quarterbacks aren't easy to find anywhere, let alone on the open market, which is why the Arizona Cardinals deserve some praise for at least landing a veteran with plenty of starting experience for nothing but a downgrade late in the draft. But can Carson Palmer help the talented but historically quarterback-deprived Cardinals make a push for the playoffs in 2013? With San Francisco and Seattle expected to be Super Bowl contenders and St. Louis on the rise, it won't be easy.
While Palmer is still only 33 years old and is coming off a 4,000-yard season in Oakland, the reality is his body is a lot older than that and those numbers are a bit misleading.
First, the Raiders trailed so often in 2012 that Palmer threw a lot. Only six NFL quarterbacks attempted more passes per game than he did. And while he finished 10th in the league in the overrated passing yardage field, Palmer ranked 15th among qualifying quarterbacks with a mediocre yards-per-attempt average of 7.1. That total was down significantly from the 8.4 mark he posted in 2011.
He did post the second-lowest interception percentage of his career, but he just wasn't able make big plays like in his pre-knee surgery Cincinnati days. The 2003 No. 1 overall pick completed just 14 of 60 passes that traveled 20 yards or more, which made him the third least accurate qualifying deep passer in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Only Brandon Weeden and Ryan Fitzpatrick were worse, and both of those guys might have lost starting jobs this offseason.
Of course, having a better supporting cast could work wonders. Palmer has never had a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald before, and the sky's the limit if those two find a groove. We already know he'll have a better defense in Glendale, so if Michael Floyd can step up in his second season and they can improve the offensive line in the draft, the Cards could give Palmer a chance to get his career back on track in his third NFL home.
And if that happens, a team that at one point won 11 of 13 games in late 2011 and early 2012 could have a chance to do some damage in 2013.