After 15 years of solid play behind center, Arizona Cardinals signal-caller Carson Palmer is calling it a career. The former Heisman Trophy winner at USC ends his time in the NFL with 46,247 passing yards and 294 touchdowns that included seven years with the Cincinnati Bengals and a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders before playing his final five seasons in the desert.
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With Carson Palmer finally retiring, who are his potential replacements at quarterback as the team looks to move forward not only with a new starting QB, but also a new head coach?
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Let's check out four NFL standouts behind center and one potentially leaving school early in college that might make sense for the Cardinals in 2018.
Kirk Cousins — Washington Redskins
It seemed inevitable that Cousins would rejoin former Redskins' offensive coordinator and current San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan after Washington failed to sign him to a long-term deal in each of the past two seasons.
The emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo over the final five games of 2017 makes it highly unlikely that the 49ers will be QB shopping this offseason, which makes the Cardinals an attractive landing spot – especially with David Johnson returning from injury to join Adrian Peterson in what would be a stacked backfield.
Colin Kaepernick — Free Agent
Any potential signing of the former 49ers' QB will depend greatly on the head coach that replaces newly retired Bruce Arians. However, considering how conservative the state tends to be politically, the firestorm that Kaepernick's protests set off the past few seasons might still be too hot for the community to embrace.
Eli Manning — New York Giants
Although not slated to be an unrestricted free agent until 2020, the 2017 nightmare that was the Giants' season might mean it's time for both parties to move on.
Before the club fired Ben McAdoo, it seemed inevitable that Manning had played his last season in The Big Apple. With the team now looking to hire a new head coach, however, it's hard to know if Manning can forgive this year's transgressions by the front office.
Then again, 2017 was one of Manning's worst seasons statistically so even if the Cardinals do bring him in, it might be to mentor a rookie out of college.
Alex Smith — Kansas City Chiefs
Before the season started it seemed inevitable that the Chiefs would part ways with Smith for recently drafted Patrick Mahomes, but that was before the former Utah star led KC to the AFC West crown and a Wild Card home game.
If the Chiefs still decide to go younger in 2018, Smith could provide the consistency and leadership Arizona is looking for.
Josh Rosen — UCLA
This one is a bit trickier seeing as how Arizona currently holds the fifteenth pick in next year's draft and at least four teams selecting above them desperately need a quarterback.
Does owner Bill Bidwill and the front office wheel and deal for Rosen who many like as the first QB taken in the 2018 NFL Draft?
We've certainly seen stranger things on draft night.