Posted on January 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
One day after Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians announced he was retiring, the team’s quarterback followed suit. In an open letter the Cardinals published on their Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, Palmer announced that he’s retiring from the NFL after 15 years in the league.
“Over the years, I’ve had teammates who decided to hang it up and I would ask them how they knew when it was time to walk away,” Palmer wrote in his letter. “The answer was almost always the same: You just know. For me, that time is now. Why? Quite simply, I just know.”
Unfortunately for Palmer, the end of his career was far from perfect. His last NFL game was a 33-0 loss to the Rams in Week 7 of this season in London. Palmer left that game with an injury and was later diagnosed with a broken left arm that kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the season. But after spending 15 years in the NFL, Palmer is fine with not taking another snap.
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“For 15 years I have been lucky enough to play quarterback in the NFL and it has been the most incredible experience of my life,” said Palmer in his letter. “There wasn’t one second that I took it for granted or failed to appreciate what a tremendous privilege it is.”
Palmer, of course, was the 1st overall pick in the 2003 draft. However, the Cincinnati Bengals chose to sit him during his rookie season. He was then able to hit the ground running when he made his NFL debut with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2004. Palmer was a three-time Pro-Bowler, going in 2005 and 2006 with the Bengals and then again in 2015 after a renaissance with the Cardinals. Palmer finished his career with over 46,000 yards passing and 294 passing touchdowns.
“I’ll especially miss the grind,” Palmer wrote. “It’s the part I don’t think people fully appreciate, maybe because many NFL players make the game look so easy and effortless. The mental and physical preparation it takes to compete — week in and week out, year in and year out — is draining and grueling but has always been my favorite part.”
In terms of team success, Palmer fell a little short of expectations for a 1st overall pick. He played in just four playoff games and never reached a Super Bowl. Of course, if not for a pair of untimely ACL injuries during the 2006 playoffs and 2014 regular season, things could have been different for Palmer.
The retirement of Palmer and Arians, as well as the expected retirement of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, leaves the Cardinals at a crossroads heading into the offseason. The Cardinals now have no quarterbacks under contract with Drew Stanton, Blaine Gabbert, and Matt Barkley all set to be free agents. Arizona could look to sign a quarterback in free agency or explore their options in the draft.
No matter who becomes Arizona’s next quarterback, it’ll be tough for the Cardinals to find someone to play the position as consistently as Palmer did for more than a decade. However, Palmer says he’s not necessarily going to remember the nearly 4,000 passes he completed, the 340 sacks he took, or even his eight career rushing touchdowns. He says something else stands out about his 15 years in the NFL.
“In the end, it’s not what happens on the football field that sticks with you,” Palmer wrote. “Those are details that I know fade with time. What I will never forget are the relationships.”