The team announced Friday that it signed Palmer to a three-year extension, which will keep him under contract through 2017. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the pact is worth $50 million with roughly $20 million guaranteed through 2015, according to a source who has seen the deal.
It's a remarkable story for a quarterback nearly a decade removed from his playing for his only legitimate title-contending team -- the 2005 Cincinnati Bengals with Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Palmer tore his knee ligaments in the team's first playoff game that season, sparking an NFL rule change and a wandering search for Palmer's mojo. Enter Bruce Arians.
The Cardinals coach has an aggressive vertical style that complements Palmer's game, and the weapons to make him look better. Palmer is no longer a top-five quarterback like he once was, but he still throws four to five passes each game that few quarterbacks could make. He's supported by a wildly talented supporting cast and a strong defense. Perhaps most importantly, he's learned to limit his mistakes.
The contract extension indicates that Palmer will get more than just this season to win it all in Arizona, but we suspect very little is promised after 2015. Palmer knows more than anyone this is a year-to-year league, and the Cardinals will likely build in contractual protection so they can easily move on from the 34-year-old if he nosedives or gets injured.
The contract, however, does take the pressure off Arizona from finding a "quarterback of the future." They could still draft a quarterback to develop in the middle rounds next season if anyone strikes Arians' fancy, but they are comfortable with Palmer and backup Drew Stanton in the meantime. This Cardinals team has a chance to go deep in the playoffs, and Palmer must relish this final chance to rewrite his career.