After a couple rough years in the AFC West, USA Today reported on Friday night that Carson Palmer would like to move to the NFC West.
The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because all talks were to remain private, said the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers are atop the list of Palmer’s preferred new employers.
Yahoo! Sports reported this week that Palmer recently turned down a $3 million pay cut from his $13 million base salary. It was an indication Palmer has no desire to return to Oakland, where he’s gone 8-16 as a starter.
Since Palmer seems more interested in playing near Los Angeles than anything else, why didn’t the San Diego Chargers make his list? It can’t just be all about winning, since the Cardinals would need a massive turnaround under Bruce Arians to make any noise in a very tough NFC next year. Maybe Palmer is looking to go to a team with higher profile receivers (Larry Fitzgerald is a draw for any quarterback, and the Michael Crabtree/Anquan Boldin combo probably excited Palmer more than Denarius Moore/Rod Streater).
Or maybe he really doesn’t like Philip Rivers. Some people just aren’t into the mouth-eyes.
Regardless, Palmer’s inclusion of the 49ers on his short list is interesting since that would mean going from being the Raiders’ starter to Colin Kaepernick’s backup. Perhaps Palmer really does want to win and play for a team close to home, but would the 49ers share Palmer’s interest? There are several reasons why that would seem doubtful.
— The 49ers only have about $4 million and change to play with under the cap. Would Palmer be willing to take a pay cut from $13 million all the way down the veteran’s minimum? Probably not, and the 49ers seem like they’re pretty happy about their current quarterback situation in terms of both talent (high) and cost (low). Besides, how tempting could it really be to spend a decent amount on a quarterback who isn’t much better than decent?
— Palmer can pass for 300 yards in a game with the best of them, but he doesn’t seem to mind getting intercepted all that much (130 picks in 122 games). He’s a volume thrower with a career interception percentage of 3.2%, about twice as often as 49ers quarterbacks have been intercepted since Harbaugh took over.
— Kaepernick ran for 264 yards in the playoffs. Palmer has rushed for 372 yards … in his career. There’s nothing that says the 49ers have to have an amazing read-option scrambler behind Kaepernick, but Palmer would be a change-of-pace quarterback in the worst possible sense. Instead of thriving on deception and balance, they’d be forced into becoming an offense where everyone’s actions are predictable.
In other words, Palmer is an expensive gambler who doesn’t run. Sounds exactly like what the 49ers aren’t looking for.
Tim Kawakami’s angle is 100% correct: “So what” if Palmer and the Raiders are slowly breaking up?
But if you’re Mark Davis, do you want Palmer around making large money if he’s giving every indication that he wants out? What does Palmer want? To go to Arizona or to be a back-up for the 49ers?
And if Palmer is willing to think about being a back-up with the 49ers (surely at a salary WAY less than $10M) just to escape Raidersland, why would the Raiders want him being anywhere near their locker room?
And if Palmer isn’t good enough to start for a good team and seems pretty comfortable throwing his weight around on bad teams, why would the 49ers want him? To prove that they can appease the mighty Palmer? The guy who’s been known as a great-in-fantasy/mediocre-in-reality for years and “retired” rather than continue playing for the Bengals? The 49ers have been successful in many ways since Harbaugh became the team’s head coach. Turning selfish veterans into quiet saviors hasn’t been one of them.
There’s no way San Francisco would acquire Palmer just to keep him out of Arizona, since it’s probably safe to assume they’d like their chances against the Cardinals if Palmer was starting instead of Drew Stanton. As for the Raiders, I agree with James Arcellana’s contention that it would best to just cut Palmer and move on from Hue Jackson’s franchise-crippling trade.