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How Palmer improves the Cardinals

Carson Palmer is an upgrade at QB, but can he survive behind Arizona's line?

Originally Published: April 2, 2013
By Andy Benoit | Football Outsiders

Carson Palmer is looking for his second fresh start in less than three years after the Oakland Raiders shipped him and a sixth-round pick (No. 176 overall) to Arizona for a seventh-rounder (No. 219) and a conditional pick in 2014. In order to critique this deal, we must first be clear on what, exactly, Palmer is and is not at this point in his 11-year career.

At 33, and with some history of elbow problems, Palmer is no longer the cannon-armed wonder that Cincinnati drafted No. 1 overall in 2003. This isn't to say he has devolved into Chad Pennington; Palmer can still get great velocity on intermediate throws and enough distance on balls downfield. But these once-shining traits of his now only appear in flashes.

The problem is that Palmer has not adjusted his style of play accordingly. As Mike Sando examines near the bottom of this analysis, he has a poor feel for which "spectacular" throws are now ill-advised. More concerning, he struggles through bouts of inaccuracy -- particularly on longer throws. And, while it might not stand out as vividly as it does with some veteran quarterbacks, Palmer's pre-snap blitz recognition is not always sharp.

These are the negatives with Palmer. The positives are that he still has an NFL-quality arm, he generally plays firm in the pocket (more on that shortly) and he has proved capable of efficiently learning new a system.

But how much will he improve the Cardinals in 2013?

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