The Arizona Cardinals just paid Carson Palmer. The three-year contract extension is worth a reported $50 million. However, it is really a one-year extension worth $20.5 million with options to keep him.
This move was really the only thing the Cardinals could have done. What choice did they have?
They are in the middle of a season in which the Super Bowl could be a real possibility. Palmer is playing as good as he ever has and he was going to be a free agent following the season because the contract he came to the Cardinals on voided a few days following the Super Bowl.
Palmer is 12-2 in his last 14 starts with 27 TDs, 11 INTs and a QB rating of nearly 100.
With those numbers, he was going to get paid by somebody. There are plenty of QB-hungry teams that had Palmer hit the open market, he would have been a rich man for some team -- probably not the Cardinals, as someone would have thrown a lot of cash his way.
Why was the contract a must?
You have a team that could make a push to the Super Bowl. You don't then let your starting quarterback walk. Say what you want about Palmer, you cannot deny he is head and shoulders above the other QBs on the roster in terms of talent.
Remember what happened with Kurt Warner after he became a fee agent after the Super Bowl season? It was a little dicey, as he even visited the San Francisco 49ers. Arizona risked losing the key cog to their success -- to the team fans hated most.
Some may argue that sticking with Palmer is a mistake because it will handcuff the team when it comes to drafting their quarterback of the future.
There is something very different to this argument, though.
We aren't talking about a rebuilding team or a mediocre team. This team actually has a championship window. Take away Palmer and it really is gone.
This is a win-now league. If you can win now, you do it -- no questions and no regrets.
But the thing is that the Cardinals aren't handcuffed. They didn't pay Palmer too much and they didn't affect future draft plans.
Palmer's deal is only guaranteed through next season. If the Cardinals have a QB fall to them in the draft they absolutely love, they can still get him and have him take over in 2016.
If Palmer continues to play at a high level and the Cardinals continue to be in the Super Bowl mix next year, then landing a franchise QB is harder to do because of drafting so late in the first round.
The point is that the Cardinals are not dealing with an okay team. They have proven to be a great team. Palmer is their leader and their model. His approach is perfect for this group of guys.
Which would you have happen? You could see the Cardinals legitimately compete for a Super Bowl for two or three seasons and perhaps struggle for a year or two. Or you could see a team who might compete for the postseason and then build with a young QB.
It's an easy question.
Do Arizona Diamondbacks fans regret the team going all in to get their one championship, even with the financial burdens it caused years later? There has been frustration because of it, but would anyone trade that World Series win?
Herm Edwards famously said, "You play to win the game."
If you want to win and you want to have a shot at the Super Bowl next year, you have to keep Palmer around.
Arizona can't ignore the quarterback position. They still need to find the guy to replace him to avoid what happened between 2010-2012.
But there was really no question as to whether the contract extension needed to happen. It was the only smart choice Arizona had.