According to multiple media reports, the Arizona Cardinals are in the process of finalizing a deal to acquire quarterback Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders.
USA Today first reported the news, citing a source who indicated the Cardinals would be giving up only a late-round draft pick as well as a swap of picks in another late round. Also as part of the deal, Palmer would agree to a reduction of his salary for the upcoming season from $13 million to $8 million, plus incentives.
With the move all but official, the Cardinals released quarterback John Skelton, last season’s Week 1 starter who was relegated to the bench late in the year, to clear a roster spot. After that announcement, however, CBS Sports reported that the Cards’ negotiations with Palmer had “hit a snag,” according to a source, making it unclear whether a deal could be culminated.
The 33-year-old Palmer, widely speculated as a potential cap casualty because of his contract with the Raiders, became expendable when Oakland acquired Seattle Seahawks backup Matt Flynn earlier Monday. His salary was considered a potential stumbling block for the Cardinals, but if a deal is finalized, it would bring Palmer to the desert to become the starter for a franchise that has been lacking quality quarterback play since Kurt Warner’s retirement after the 2009 season.
Since releasing Kevin Kolb (in large part because of the inability to restructure a contract that would have paid him a $2 million roster bonus and $9 million salary this season) earlier this offseason, the Cardinals have added only veteran Drew Stanton. Stanton, a backup with the Indianapolis Colts under new coach Bruce Arians last season, hasn’t thrown a pass in the past two seasons and has only five touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his six-year career.
Arians all but named Stanton the starter in his public appearances of late but left open the possibility that the Cardinals could acquire another quarterback, either through trade, free agency or the draft. It is still a possibility that the Cardinals could use an early draft pick on a QB considering that Palmer would seem to be a short-term solution, with Stanton sliding into a backup role.
The team also has second-year quarterback Ryan Lindley and veteran Brian Hoyer under contract for next season after Hoyer signed his one-year tender offer Monday.
Palmer, the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner at USC and top overall pick in the ’03 draft, spent his first seven seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Last season, he completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as the Raiders went 4-12. His 85.3 passer rating was his best mark since 2007 with the Bengals.
By comparison, Kolb, 28, had an 86.1 passer rating with eight touchdown passes and three interceptions last season, but he was limited by injuries to just 14 starts in his two seasons in Arizona.