Cardinals Sign QB Carson Palmer to 3 Year Extension


Arizona has locked up their starting QB Carson Palmer for another three years according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen

While Mort didn’t give any contract details outside a range of annual values, it sounds as if Palmer will make $20.5 million in new money between now and 2015 and max out at $16.6 million a year.

Palmer is one of the more interesting quarterback. Palmer retired a few years ago when he wanted out from the Bengals who were making it known they felt they could go as far as they could with the former number 1 overall pick.  Palmer ended up being traded to Oakland where he was eventually asked to take a paycut from what was an already relatively modest salary. He refused and Oakland decided to trade Palmer to Arizona and instead go with Matt Flynn and later Matt Schaub as veteran replacements, two pretty bad decisions. Palmer has had two efficient years with the Cardinals and it was a given that they would need him to QB what is win-now contending type team for the forseeable future. Palmer had never been able to get over the playoff hump and may have the best chance of his career in 2014 to do so.

Palmer was likely able to leverage the teams strong record and the lack of good quarterbacks around the NFL into this contract. Palmer is certainly on the older end of the age scale and never had those Peyton or Brady-esque seasons that would limit those age concerns. Palmer did miss a few games earlier this season.

If the $20.5 million is his true new money number that would place him about $3 million less than Alex Smith in his most recent contract extension. The 3 year value should be just below what Smith makes over the comparable time period. This extension should push him beyond the three year value held by Andy Dalton who replaced him as Bengals starter in 2011.

Given the Cardinals current salary cap space I’d say a reasonable signing bonus for Palmer would be $10 million.  At that figure they can walk away from him in 2016 in the event the window closes and they want to get younger on offense. I would not be surprised if most of the guarantee was protected for injury only in the event the wheels fell off this year or Palmer was injured again and missed significant time.

The price sounds like a pretty reasonable one for Palmer who is a known commodity. Had Palmer been three years younger he would likely earn in the $19 million a year range as he is a superior player to Jay Cutler.  As long as he can maintain his levels of play he is a bargain compared to others in the same salary range.

I would think the next move for Arizona is to work with Larry Fitzgerald on a reasonable new contract. Fitzgerald has a monster cap hit and salary next season which is not really in line with his production. My estimates for Arizona, which already included a $10 million salary for Palmer, in 2015 had them with one of the five tightest cap situations in the NFL. Fitzgerald is really the key for them getting the books in order to improve further in 2015.