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Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer's best years could be ahead of him

With the resiliency he possesses in addition to the talent surrounding him the 34-year-old quarterback still has something to prove

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Let's face it. Carson Palmer is not among the elite quarterbacks in the league. He is no Kurt Warner either, but for the Arizona Cardinals, he is the next best thing. Carson's career does not draw any comparisons to the future Hall of Famer's legacy in Warner, unless maybe you count their alliance to the Cardinals, as well as the team's expectations with both of them the helm.

When Warner was under center, his mojo from his days with the St. Louis Rams suddenly came back as he led the Cardinals to an unprecedented  two consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the first ever Super Bowl in franchise history. You cannot discount though the year prior to those playoff experiences, the fact that the Cards finished the season 8-8, falling just short of the playoffs and expectations were mounted.

Now despite missing the playoffs last season after posting a 10-6 record, expectations for the Cardinals have risen once again, and  it is Palmer's turn to match those expectations, and perhaps rewrite the legacy that Warner left behind.

I know what you are thinking, it's ridiculous right? Carson Palmer a successful quarterback? A man who quit on his former teams, and tends to throw a lot of interceptions. There is no way that he can lead the Cardinals to the playoffs, let alone a Super Bowl.

Now, again, Palmer's career pales in comparison to the likes of Warner's but his career numbers can at least suggest that of a success. I mean just look at his stats thus far throughout his career. The 11- year veteran, now entering his 12th season, has thrown for more than 3,000 yards in seven out of his 11 years played. He has reached the 4,000 plus plateau at least four times. That has to account for something doesn't it?

Well perhaps it is because of at least eight out of those 11 years played, that Carson just did not have the talent around him necessary to validate the numbers he has put up over the years. It certainly seemed that way in the beginning of his career. After sitting on the bench for his entire rookie season (2003), he then finally took the reins the fallowing season, leading the Cincinnati Bengals to an 8-8 record.

It was the year after that things would really get going though, as he led the Bengals back to the playoffs after a 15-year drought while throwing for a league high 32 touchdowns. However, despite throwing a 66-yard touchdown pass to the late Chris Henry in the opening minutes of their first playoff game, Palmer would suffer a severe career threatening knee injury that knocked him out of the game, which in turn knocked the Bengals out of the playoffs as the Pittsburgh Steelers would go on to prevail.

Palmer miraculously returned to quarterback the Bengals after that in 2006 despite many doubters. He started all 16 games, only missing one play due to getting the wind knocked out of him. He didn't quite throw for 32 touchdowns (he had 28), but he did manage to throw for more passing yards then the year prior with 4,035.  He also made his second straight Pro Bowl appearance where he won MVP honors. Despite such a remarkable comeback performance by Palmer, his Bengals finished one game short of the playoffs as those pesky Steelers yet again squandered any hope that the Bengals had of becoming a legit contender once again.

Controversy set in with Palmer and the Bengals just a few years later in 2010 when the quarterback demanded a trade due to the lack of talent he felt the team was not building around him. Therefore, he threatened to retire , according to an article by Jason Heim of Bleacher Report, after Bengals management refused his demands. The fallowing season in 2011, they would finally give in and accept a trade proposal from the Oakland Raiders.

Palmer would end up with a record of 8-15 in the two years spent with Oakland, which included a victory over his longtime nemesis Steelers in the early goings of the 2012 season, which I'm sure was a sigh of relief for Palmer.  However, his Raiders would struggle the rest of the way. Palmer had a decent pair of receivers to throw to while he played with the Raiders, but not a whole lot of other talent around him to validate the Raiders as successful organization.

It would be disavow all over again, as Palmer would be unhappy with yet another team he felt failed to put talent around him, and, after being offered a contract with no guarantees, which led to his being traded.

The rest is history, as Palmer would be traded to the Cardinals in the 2013 off-season, and somewhat solidify their quarterback woes as they finally had a quarterback capable of having a QB rating higher than at least 60.0.

Ironically enough, he and then new head coach Bruce Arians were a part of the same team, stemming back from all those Bengals vs. Steelers division rivalry games. Arians of course coached the wide receivers, and later called the offensive plays for the Steelers while Palmer was with the Bengals. It became clear that both men were happy to finally be together on the same side considering they both admired each other's work after all those years battling in the AFC North division rights.

Throughout Palmer's career spent in the NFL, he has thrown 152 interceptions, which included career high 22 interceptions last season in a Cardinal uniform. Many would argue that because most of his interceptions came in crucial situations, he is just no good, especially considering he has walked out on his team on two different occasions.

Well considering both the Raiders and the Bengals apparently did not show any signs of wanting to win according to Palmer, the quarterback wanted out because winning is all he ever wanted to do. Sure most all those interceptions throughout his career were on him, and he would probably be the first to tell you that, but if there is a silver lining in all that, it has to be his resilience, and ability to put that of any wrong doing behind him, and move on to the next play. After all, just like most any athlete should, the quarterback especially should have a short-term memory.

Fortunately, for Palmer, he has shown the ability to do that. Just look at last season's game in Seattle against the SeattleSeahawks where despite Palmer throwing 4 interceptions in that single game, he still managed to lead the Cardinals down the and connect with wide receiver Michael Floyd for what would be the game winning touchdown.

Watch the video here.

Last season, prior to this very play, even Palmer admitted himself as well as the rest if the team were just swimming (Mentally), saying it was difficult learning his new coaches' offense according to Kent Somers of AZCentral Sports. It is a night and day difference, compared to what Palmer and the rest of his Cardinal teammates had to endure a season ago. A season in which the team would struggled by posting a 4-4 record in  the first half of the season, and finishing the second half with a remarkable 6-2 record, coach Arians says the team is light years away from that according to Around the League writer Mark Sessler of

Without a doubt, Palmer is excited about the upcoming 2014 season and the potential the Cardinals have. He is more comfortable with the offensive scheme, and more importantly, happy to have the talent around him. He really is excited to have weapons like Floyd, and even more excited about their off-season additions, including third round pick wide receiver John Brown. Credit to both Vince Moratta and Craig Grailou of Arizona Sports.

I am by no means suggesting that Palmer will ever become elite, but he could potentially be included in the conversation considering he finally has more talent around him than probably he has ever had before in his entire career so far. I think Palmer would be a fool to quit on the Cardinals, and it is highly likely that will not happen any time soon.

What I am suggesting is that the 34-year old veteran still has a lot left in the tank, and regardless of the Cardinals selection of quarterback Logan Thomas in the fourth round of just this pas draft, we all may not have witnessed Palmer's best performance just yet.

Is there anybody out there who can agree with me?