It’s inevitable with every team, and in Phoenix, the Arizona Cardinals are faced with two key players at two key positions who have grown very long in the tooth.
The realities are that Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, centerpieces for the Arizona Cardinals on offense, are playing on borrowed time. It’s no crime, but it presents the team with choices that need to be made as these two players move into the sunsets of their respective careers.
Carson Palmer, who was drafted by the Bengals in 2003, has been a steadying force in the desert since signing with Arizona in 2013. The Cardinals have twice benefited from veteran quarterbacks in the twilight of their career. Kurt Warner was able to get the Cards to a Super Bowl and Palmer got Arizona to the NFC Championship game two seasons ago.
As for Fitzgerald, he’s been the face of the franchise and is a lock for Canton. With both Warner and Palmer, he’s been part of a duo that has kept the Cardinals competitive with Seattle in the NFC West. While the division hasn’t been impressive, Arizona has been a consistent challenger to the Seahawks.
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All that said, Arizona hasn’t cultivated any talent at quarterback, the central piece to any NFL franchise who wants to challenge for the playoffs and win Super Bowls. With all due respect to Fitzgerald, the Cardinals need to secure a quarterback of the future now, not when Carson Palmer is a TV analyst. 2017 needs to be the year they begin the process of addressing that future.
It’s not crime when players get old. It’s how it works, and every fan has a favorite player they likely watched play a year or two too long. NFL franchises are very good at moving those players before the stay a year past being productive.
In Arizona, the Cardinals need to make sure they don’t get caught watching the retirement ceremony for these two greats, knowing they never addressed who would come after them.