New quarterback Carson Palmer (right) and Head Coach Bruce Arians talk to the media Tuesday after the Cardinals traded for Palmer. (AP photo)
Bruce Arians didn't make anyone wait, or even have to ask the question.
Sitting next to Carson Palmer Tuesday, a couple hours after the Cardinals had traded with the Oakland Raiders for the veteran, Arians made clear his plans.
"I am here to introduce our starting quarterback," the Cardinals' head coach said, "and put it to bed."
With that, the "whirlwind couple of days" Palmer had – starting Friday, when General Manager Steve Keim reached out to Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie to try and get Palmer to Arizona – were over and the Cardinals had indeed ducked behind Arians' much-talked about Door No. 2 to find a quarterback answer in 2013.
The trade cost the Cards little. They surrendered the second of their two 2013 sixth-round picks (176 overall) and could lose a conditional pick in 2014 (reportedly a mere seventh-rounder) based on Palmer's playing time. And the Cardinals got back a seventh-round pick from the Raiders in 2013, the 219th selection.
Palmer, 33, also renegotiated his contract into a two-year deal that multiple reports pegged at $8 million a year with the ability for the Cards to get out of it after one season.
That didn't seem likely Tuesday, not with Palmer talking a lot about how the Cardinals are trying to win now and the
Cardinals – from Arians to Keim to President Michael Bidwill – making clear their confidence in Palmer as starter.
"I don't think I ever dreamed we'd get a quarterback the quality of Carson Palmer to come to the Cardinals and it just presented itself," Bidwill said.
Timing is everything. Palmer saw the Raiders moving toward younger players – he said he was advised not to sign a new Oakland deal because it gave him no guarantees or security – and liked the idea of coming to Arizona.
If there was anything that came out of Tuesday's press conference, it was the cohesive thought process between Palmer and his new head coach about trying to win now.
"At the point I am in in my career, I want to win now," Palmer said. "I don't have years to build."
Arians, speaking on the search for quarterbacks, admitted "I was confident someone would be able to be shaken loose somewhere (and) I was hoping it was him." Why? "I was hoping (the Raiders) would go to a youth movement, and we are not at that stage," Arians said. "This is too good a football team."
So the Cardinals wanted Palmer. Keim said sometimes, a player's reputation doesn't match what is seen on video. Before the Cards went all in on the trade, Keim looked at every one of Palmer's throws over the past three seasons. He insisted he didn't see any of the lack of arm strength some have.
"He can still drive the football down the field," Keim said.
Palmer, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2003 by Cincinnati, threw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a passer rating of 85.3 in 2012.
Both Keim and Arians talked about Palmer's perfect fit for the offense, and Palmer said he had long admired what Arians did with the offenses he had run. Palmer also not surprisingly expressed excitement about working with a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald and praised his leadership qualities.
"To be a quarterback coming to a team where a receiver runs things and pretty much is the one everyone looks up to is a unique situation for me," Palmer said.
Fitzgerald didn't want to go overboard in his analysis yet, understandable for a player who has worked with eight quarterbacks already since Kurt Warner retired.
"I'm coming off the most disappointing season of my career and I'm in 'Prove it' mode," Fitzgerald said. "Anyone who can come to our team and help us reclaim the division, I'm all for."
The NFC West isn't an easy place to play. That Palmer acknowledged. But the confidence flowed. Palmer said he had "heard" about the protection problems of the offensive line but expressed confidence in Arians and assistant head coach Tom Moore to fix them. Arians, has he has done consistently, said the Cardinals' offensive line will be fine.
The Cards, with a quarterback in place, can go offensive line early in the draft in fact. As far as the overhaul of the offense that struggled to score so much in 2012, Arians said the Cardinals were making progress.
"We are only a guy or two away now," Arians said. "Depth at running back, with Ryan (Williams) coming back. Maybe a burner at receiver. A couple of big guys (on the offensive line). We are very, very close now."
Drew Stanton, the man who would've been starter had Palmer not materialized, becomes the backup at quarterback. The offensive roster, with the draft left to add players, is more or less set.
"It just comes to show you that the coaches and upstairs they're going to do everything they can to win games and that's our goal," center Lyle Sendlein said. "We want to win the NFC West and get into the playoffs and whatever they can do to add it, we'll be happy to take anyone. We welcome Carson with open arms."
Palmer, who lauded the organization repeatedly, emphasized the Cardinals were getting a player who could do the things they were counting on him to do.
"I know I have a lot of tread left on my tires," Palmer said.