BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The last two offseasons couldn’t be any different for Carson Palmer.
Last offseason, he was in complete rehabilitation mode after having ACL surgery on his left knee for the second time in his career (the first time was against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2006 playoffs).
This offseason, Palmer’s out participating in Kurt Warner’s charity flag football event, and he’s playing golf in an LPGA Pro Am.
With the exception of the way things ended for Palmer and the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game, it’s hard to imagine life being any better for him right now.
“No comparison,” Palmer said when comparing the two offseasons. “Last offseason I got invited to this (Warner’s flag football tournament), but I wasn’t physically cleared to do it. Now, I feel great. I’ve had plenty of rest, and recovery, and it’s been a great offseason, but it’s time for the offseason to be over. It’s that March time of the year where your like, ‘Alright, let’s get back at it again.’”
It’s been a fun and busy offseason for the Palmer family, with Carson, and his bride, Shaelyn, bringing their fourth child – a son – into the world.
Mrs. Palmer is not only loving the fact that she’s a new mom again, but she’s also loving the fact that she has her husband around a lot more than she does during the regular season and the postseason.
Shaelyn knows all this extra time with Carson is short-lived, with the strength and conditioning program coming up, along with OTAs, minicamp and training camp, then what will be Carson’s 14th NFL season after all that, which he’s so pumped for.
“My family and friends have understood for a long time (about) the offseason,” Palmer said. “I call my buddies that are in their office, in their cubicles with their suit and tie on, and I’m waking up at 9, and I’m talking trash, but they’re talking trash all football season long. My friends and family are used to this time of the year.”
What a time general manager Steve Keim and his staff have had so far in free agency! They managed to re-sign quarterback Drew Stanton, tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Ifeanyi Momah, defensive tackles Red Bryant and Josh Mauro and running back Chris Johnson, PLUS they were able to sign safety Tyvon Branch, and right guard Evan Mathis, and pull off a blockbuster trade with the New England Patriots, in getting the pass rusher they were looking for in outside linebacker Chandler Jones, in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
It’s enough for Palmer to fall over with excitement, being that he’s a HUGE fan of what goes in in free agency, especially when it comes to his team.
“I’m a die-hard fan,” Palmer said. “I got fired up when I saw Tyvon Branch come across the ticker. It’s like I’m a super fan. I’m on the outside, (and) obviously I’m not involved, but I’m paying attention to every second of it.”
Palmer knows Branch quite well. They spent two years together in Oakland with the Raiders (2011-12). He gives the skinny on Branch, and what the #BirdGang should expect to see from him this season.
“Man, he’s (Branch) really, really good,” Palmer said. “He had some great years in Oakland (with the Raiders), and just had a bad ankle injury, and just hit a little bit of a rough patch, and it’s worked out in our favor. He’s a top safety in this league. I’ve seen him play up close and personal, (and) I’ve practiced with him. He plays 4.3 (40-yard dash speed) all the time, every single play; no holds barred and has that kind of attitude. (He’s) kind of like an Energizer bunny almost. He’s non-stop all the time, he has so much energy. I’m really excited about that addition.”
Continuing on with the reunion tour: Palmer also played with Mathis for two years (2009-10) in Cincinnati with the Bengals. Time for more skinny from Palmer on the newest member of the Cardinals: Mathis.
“Being the quarterback, you always love offensive linemen coming in,” Palmer said. “I’ve known Evan (Mathis) for a long time, I’ve played with him for a while. Very passionate player, very explosive and strong. Probably one of the smarter players I’ve ever been around. It’s a huge addition for us, especially with losing (Jonathan) Coop(er). It’s a tremendous signing for us.”
With Mathis as his starting right guard now, and D.J. Humphries taking over as the starting right tackle, with Bobby Massie’s departure to the Chicago Bears, and question marks at the center position, 3/5th of Palmer’s offensive line will be made up of new personnel this coming season.
The average quarterback would panic when he took time to really let that sink in, but not Palmer. He believes there’s plenty of time in the offseason to get the line together and let everybody jell before the regular season hits.
“Oh no doubt,” Palmer said. “I’m excited to see (them come together). D.J.’s (Humphries) got a big set of shoes to fill. Bobby (Massie) was a great player here for a while, and now he’s (Humphries) got to step up. I don’t know what’s going to happen with Lyle (Sendlein), or the center position, but (I’m) just excited to get to work with these guys and get going again.”