Carson Palmer
Carson Palmer
39-Year-Old QuarterbackQB
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Carson Palmer in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a one-year, $24.35 million contract extension with the Cardinals in August of 2016. Contract runs through the 2018 season.
Retires after 15 seasons
QBFree Agent
January 2, 2018
Palmer announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday, the Cardinals' official site reports.
One day removed from head coach Bruce Arians making the same announcement, Palmer will head into the sunset after 15 seasons with three different teams. After waiting one year to get his first shot with the Bengals in 2004, the previous year's No. 1 overall pick spent seven years with the organization as the starting quarterback. A dispute with ownership in 2011 eventually resulted in a trade to the Raiders, where he suited up the next two campaigns. To wrap up his career, Palmer landed in the Arizona desert in April of 2013 and spurred one of the most successful runs in the history of the Cardinals in that state, accumulating a 38-21-1 record as a starter. His injury woes emerged at inopportune times, though, as he was only available for one of the team's two playoff runs. In 182 regular-season games played, Palmer averaged 254.1 yards per contest, completed 62.5 percent of his passes and accrued 294 touchdowns versus 187 interceptions for an 87.9 quarterback rating.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Palmer considered retiring after, in coach Bruce Arians' words, he "got the hell beat out of him" last year. He suffered through a concussion and hamstring injury as he was sacked 40 times (5th) while an injury-ravaged offensive line allowed 129 knockdowns (2nd), helping Palmer fumble a league-high 14 times (four lost). After leading the NFL in yards per attempt (8.7) in 2015, Palmer posted his lowest YPA since 2012 and lowest completion percentage since 2011. And while he got better results (13 TDs, four INTs) the last six games, his efficiency otherwise did not improve. Perhaps the biggest problem was a downfield passing game that was virtually non-existent. Palmers' QB rating on passes more than 20 yards was 49.6; his completion percentage on 30-plus-yard passes was 12.0 (3 of 25) -- both lower than any QB save for Blake Bortles. Palmer still has plenty of arm and plenty of weapons, with the ageless Larry Fitzgerald also returning, arguably the league's best running back in David Johnson and burners John Brown and J.J. Nelson, who should be more involved this season. However, Brown has been beset by a quad injury this preseason, taking away one of his primary downfield threats. To top it off, the 37-year-old Palmer enters his 15th year having played a full season just twice in the last six years. No matter, the reward may outweigh the risk if he stays healthy.
When F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, he clearly wasn't expecting Carson Palmer. Thirteen seasons after being drafted first overall in 2003 as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, and on his third team, the 36-year-old put together the best campaign of his career, leading the NFL in YPA at an eye-popping 8.7 while turning in top-5 finishes in passing yards and TDs. The potent array of talent the Cardinals surrounded him with certainly helped, but without Palmer's leadership and precision passing it's doubtful players like David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or John Brown would have had seasons anywhere near as productive. Palmer was lethal in all areas of the field, leading the league in QB rating on passes of 15 yards or less while coming in sixth in QB rating on passes longer than 15 yards, one of only three QBs (Russell Wilson, Andy Dalton) to post ratings higher than 100 in both areas. Arizona came up short in the playoffs, so Palmer has plenty of motivation to come through with another strong season in his quest for his first Super Bowl ring, but it's hard to anticipate a repeat considering 2015 was just the second time in the last five seasons he's played all 16 games. His supporting cast and system remain elite, but Palmer's beaten-up body will need to cooperate.
Palmer was limited to just six games in 2014 due to a Week 1 shoulder injury and torn ACL in Week 10, but he delivered when on the field. He was 6-0 in those starts and averaged 18.8 fantasy points through his first five, scoring at least 16 points in each game. He threw just three picks in 224 attempts for a career-low 1.3 percent interception rate and was on pace for 4,000 yards and nearly 30 touchdowns. Palmer is expected to be ready for training camp, and if he again gets 37.3 attempts per game as he did last year, he'll be fantasy relevant. Palmer threw so much, and Arizona kept throwing even after he went down, largely because the running game was so ineffective, averaging an NFL-low 3.29 yards per carry. The Cardinals used a third-round pick on potential three-down back David Johnson (6-1, 224), who could challenge the smaller and oft-injured Andre Ellington (5-9, 199) for the starting job. But that was the only change the Cardinals made to their skill positions. Although Larry Fitzgerald hasn't played at a Pro Bowl level in three years, and Michael Floyd was unable to follow up on a promising 2013 campaign, the duo is still more than capable. With explosive second-year man John Brown poised for a larger role, the Cardinals have arguably the best receiving group in the NFC West.
A history of elbow injuries and a propensity for interceptions have led to Palmer's starting merits being questioned regularly over the last several years, but he keeps paddling along. The veteran threw for over 4,000 yards and 20-plus touchdowns for the second year in a row while nearly leading Arizona to a playoff berth in 2013. Considering the intense toughness of the NFC West and the fact that he was playing behind one of the league's worst offensive lines, Palmer deserves some credit. His value should remain steady in 2014, as the formidable wideout duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd returns, and the offensive line will improve with the addition of left tackle Jared Veldheer, as well as the return of guard Jonathan Cooper, who missed all of 2013 after the Cardinals picked him seventh overall in the 2013 draft. Still, Palmer's interception problems (22 in 2013) are nothing new, and his inconsistency last year (eight games under 250 yards, eight games with fewer than two touchdowns) mean he'll likely struggle to exceed QB2 utility.
Quietly, Palmer threw for more than 4,000 yards in Oakland last season. With a change of scenery, the veteran quarterback will have arguably the best wide receiver tandem of his career in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. To maximize his potential, Palmer will need substantially better protection from the Cardinals' offensive line than what the unit gave to quarterbacks in 2012 – 57 sacks allowed (31st) and 90 QB hits (28th). The addition of first-round guard Jonathan Cooper was intended to give Palmer room to step up in the pocket, but a potentially season-ending broken fibula may have wiped away Cooper's rookie campaign before it even begins. Nevertheless, the Cardinals are also equipped with a variety of role players –- tight end Rob Housler and slot man Andre Roberts –- to help ease Palmer's tenure in the desert.
Palmer is an injury worry and was reckless in his first year with the Raiders, but the big-play potential he possesses in an offense loaded with speedy playmakers gives him a fair amount of upside. There doesn’t exist a trio of receivers that can rival the big-play abilities of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, and it showed as Palmer averaged 8.4 yards per pass last year, a career high by more than half of a yard (7.8 in 2006.) The result was 2,637 passing yards in just nine starts for an offense in which he had just two weeks of practice before taking over as the starter. That would project to 4,688 yards – a figure that mostly makes up for the 23 interceptions he would be projected for in the same span. The arrival of coach Dennis Allen means a new offensive scheme for Palmer, but with his pass catchers back and an actual offseason and training camp to acclimate to the offense, he should lead another high-flying passing attack in 2012.
It's anyone's guess how the standoff between Palmer and Bengals owner Mike Brown will end. Palmer seems entirely serious about never playing for Cincinnati again, while Brown seems equally committed to sending Palmer into retirement rather than trading him, unreasonable as that might be. Palmer isn't nearly as effective at this point as he was circa 2005, but he's still probably capable of winning a starting job somewhere. He threw for 3,970 yards and 26 touchdowns last year, though it took a career-high 586 pass attempts to get there. He'll likely need another pass-happy offense if he's going to approach last year's production.
At this point in his career, Palmer is only a starter when you have a bye week or an injury. He’s not even a week-to-week matchup play now coming off the horrendous 2009 season. The Bengals have an extreme lack of offensive weapons beyond Chad Ochocinco and are now a defensive-oriented team that relies on a running game and seeks to keep scores manageable. So Palmer is thus a name brand with little fantasy value outside of that.
There's nothing to take out of Palmer's 2008 from a performance standpoint because he was playing hurt. His elbow injury is reportedly healed, and he begins 2009 with a clean bill of health. Caution: he chose to forgo reconstructive surgery. And he returns, of course, without favorite target T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Replacing him is Laveranues Coles (perhaps Palmer likes receivers with names difficult to spell). Coles is not a possession type like Houshmandzadeh, though, and thus not as good a complement to Chad Johnson, who might be declining, and Johnson never really had top-end speed. The Bengals offensive line was in shambles as 2008 progressed, and they drafted Alabama's Andre Smith, who showed up overweight and out of shape to the biggest interview of his life but didn't have to pay for it. Fat and lazy is not the ideal resume for a premier left tackle, which is what the Bengals and especially Palmer need. On the plus side, Missouri tight end Chase Coffman was viewed by many observers to have second-round ability and could provide some quick returns, which are badly needed. Can Cedric Benson be counted on? He's needed to help Palmer keep the chains moving so that the QB can recapture his scoring proficiency that really deserted him beginning in 2007 (one TD or less in five of his last eight games and zero in three of them). Be a skeptic. Most will reach for Palmer as an elite QB and look at his three-year averages from 2005-to-2007. But that's a lifetime ago in the NFL, and there's just too much risk to waste an early round pick on Palmer that's more wisely spent on a RB or WR.
At press time the Bengals vaunted receiving corps was in shambles. Chris Henry, supremely talented but equally self-destructive, was given his walking papers after another offseason incident. Chad Johnson was demanding a trade because too many receivers have passed him on the salary ladder. He refused to report to minicamp and, at press time, is threatening retirement if his wishes aren't met. Palmer needed a strong offseason working with his targets to rebound from a very poor season in reality if not in fantasy. His 20 interceptions were unacceptable. The big plays were lacking despite the OK total of 26 TD passes. He threw 575 passes, and that TD percentage was just 12th, not good given his weapons. Palmer's good enough to turn any receiver into someone capable. But the environment in Cincy is no longer good enough to justify the third-round pick he's likely to cost you. If Johnson's distractions (or departure) cause Palmer to slide into the sixth or seventh round, he'll be useful because there's a good chance he'll still generate 25-to-30 TDs anyway given his talent, and the Bengals need to throw to compensate for their always porous defense.
Palmer owners had to like that the Bengals were so aggressive last year passing in the first half of games, when the score is less likely to impact playcalling. The only teams well above the Bengals’ mark of 58 percent passes were the Eagles and Packers. Palmer throws a little less than half the time inside-the-10, and though he doesn’t exhibit Peyton Manning-style efficiency, he’s above average in converting (12 TDs in his 32 passes). Upper echelon fantasy QBs typically get at least 15 of these easy TD passes, and that’s a reasonable projection for Palmer. After dominating our functional arm strength rankings in 2005, Palmer slumped to an 88 rating on 11-to-20 yard passes from scrimmage. But we can chalk that up to the combination of his recovery from knee surgery and some sloppiness in pass protection by a Bengals line hampered by injuries. It seemed that Palmer did not have the confidence in his knee to stand tall with bodies around him and firmly plant his back foot to drive his throws. This caused him to miss out on some big plays that provide the tipping point into fantasy greatness, especially in distance scoring leagues. Now that he’s fully recovered, expect more explosion in the Bengals passing game. The loss of Chris Henry for at least half a season will hurt Palmer. But, again, great QBs create great receivers – they are not a product of them. Palmer also has all the intangibles we look for, as he’s among the best at handling the pressure in the fourth quarter of close games (132 QB rating) and during two minute drills (101 QB rating).
It will be well into training camp before his 2006 prospects are clear. Remember, Daunte Culpepper suffered a similar injury about 10 weeks before Palmer and Culpepper is iffy to start the regular season. Even if Palmer starts the season, he’ll likely have to endure considerable pain as his rehab won’t be complete. Barring that injury, Palmer would come off the board right after Peyton Manning. But the knee problems coupled with the inevitable rustiness from missing so much practice time introduces an element of risk into selecting Palmer. Palmer does have some great weapons in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He will be hurt if No. 3 Chris Henry gets suspended for charges relating to concealing a firearm. Henry is talented but is showing why most teams took him off their draft boards for character issues. Without him, there is little quality depth, and that could be a problem if either Johnson or Houshmandzadeh gets hurt. The reasons to take a chance on Palmer’s rehab are many. He had a sparkling 119.7 QB rating on 114 passes thrown 11-to-20 yards. His coaches gave him the eighth highest percentage of red-zone passes, up from 19th in ’04. On 54 late/close attempts, Palmer’s QB rating was 97. His poor throw percentage was just 11.6. The only possible knock is his mediocre 7.5 YPA on first down passes, which may be why the Bengals were just 17th in first down pass percentage last year (16th in overall pass percentage).
Palmer is the type of player who might well wind up in the top five of everyone’s 2006 magazine list, and we’ve decided to get ahead of the curve. While he started slowly in his first season as the team’s primary signal caller, Palmer convinced us he’s arrived with 11 touchdowns in a four-game stretch against Pittsburgh (2), Cleveland (4), at Baltimore (3) and at New England (2). It’s not just Palmer, but the entire Bengals offense that looks primed to go off. Chad Johnson emerged as an elite wideout in 2003, and last season’s showing merely confirmed that. T.J. Houshmandzadeh stepped up as a reliable possession option, torching the Ravens for 171 yards and the Patriots for 145 when the teams keyed on Johnson. Throw in a good offensive line and a reliable running game and all the weapons are in place for the third-year quarterback, who has excellent size and arm strength, to move the team up and down the field. Palmer’s not much of a runner, but he dropped about 20 pounds during the offseason and hopes to be quicker in 2005. Palmer strained his MCL in the New England game and didn’t get a chance to build on those strong performances down the stretch, but he took part in the team’s offseason workouts, and the knee shouldn’t be an issue heading into camp.
Marvin Lewis appears ready to take a leap of faith, but you shouldn't. The Bengals are too playoff ready to suffer through the growing pains that Palmer is likely to endure. Keeper league owners should draft Palmer aggressively, as his prospects for success beyond 2004 are good.
Palmer is expected to learn under Jon Kitna for 2003.
More Fantasy News
Gets vote of confidence from Arians for 2018
QBArizona Cardinals
December 6, 2017
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Palmer (arm) would enter the 2018 season as the team's starting quarterback if the veteran opts against retiring, Josh Weinfuss of reports.
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Recovery going slowly
QBArizona Cardinals
November 22, 2017
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said Wednesday that he doesn't think Palmer (arm) has progressed enough in his recovery to return from injured reserve this season, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports.
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Has cast removed
QBArizona Cardinals
November 20, 2017
Head coach Bruce Arians said Monday that Palmer has had the cast removed from his left arm, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports.
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Uncertain on future beyond 2017
QBArizona Cardinals
November 17, 2017
Palmer (arm), who is under contract with the Cardinals through the 2018 season, indicated last week that he hasn't decided if he'll keep playing beyond the current campaign, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. "I haven't even gotten there yet," Palmer said, regarding his future in the NFL. "I'll have a chance to think about what is next as far as 2018 and all that once we get through this year."
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Lands on injured reserve
QBArizona Cardinals
October 26, 2017
The Cardinals placed Palmer (arm) on injured reserve Thursday, Kyle Odegard of the team's official site reports.
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