Carson Palmer


Carson_Palmer_cropped)  Carson Palmer


Carson Hilton Palmer (born December 27, 1979) is an American football quarterback for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Southern California and won the Heisman Trophy in 2002. The Cincinnati Bengals chose him with the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. He has been selected to two Pro Bowls.

College career

Palmer and his retired jersey at USC.

Palmer attended the University of Southern California, and played for the USC Trojans football team from 1999 to 2002. He arrived on the USC campus and immediately competed for the starting quarterback job with Mike Van Raaphorst. Van Raaphorst won, but due to his ineffectiveness, Palmer was named the starter in the ninth game of the season, becoming only the second true freshman ever to start as quarterback for the Trojans. Palmer roomed with fellow USC football players and future NFL players Troy Polamalu and Matt Cassel. Polamalu would go on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals' division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cassel, first backing up New England Patriots QB Tom brady, later traded for the Oakland Raiders' division rival, the Kansas City Chiefs.

After three underwhelming years at USC, Palmer had a breakout senior year under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who was brought in the year before by head coach Pete Carroll. The revamped Trojans offense led to Carson Palmer becoming the fifth Trojan to win the Heisman Trophy, after running backs Mike Garrett (1965), O.J. Simpson (1968), Charles White (1979), and Marcus Allen (1981). Palmer was the first Trojan quarterback to be so honored; his successor, Matt Leinart, won it as a junior in 2004.

Palmer completed 309 of 489 passes for 3942 yards and 33 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions during the 2002 season, and later led the Trojans to an impressive 38–17 victory over the University of Iowa in the Orange Bowl. His completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns were all USC single season records. In a November 30 game against Notre Dame, Palmer threw for 425 yards and led his team to 610 yards of total offense, the most ever gained against Notre Dame in each category. Following his 2002 senior season, Palmer was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and was recognized as a consensus first-team All-American.[3] He finished his college career as the Pac-10 Conference's all-time leader in passing yards (11,818), completions (927) and total offense (11,621), along with 72 career touchdown passes, a USC record at that time (since surpassed by Matt Leinart).


from USC biography[4]

    • 1999: 39/53 (73.6%) for 490 yards, 3 Passing TDs and 1 Rushing TD; with 3 Interceptions
    • 2000: 228/415 (54.9%) for 2914 yards, 16 Passing TDs and 2 Rushing TDs; with 18 Interceptions
  • 2001: 221/377 (58.6%) for 2717 yards, 13 Passing TDs and 1 Rushing TD; with 12 Interceptions
    • 2002: 309/489 (63.2%) for 3942 yards, 33 Passing TDs and 4 Rushing TDs; with 10 Interceptions

Professional career

2003 season

Unlike most quarterbacks drafted first overall, Palmer did not play at all during his rookie season; instead, Palmer learned the position during games and in practice under head coach Marvin Lewis and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese as veteran quarterback Jon Kitna, who signed with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent in 2001, took every snap during the 2003 season. For his efforts, Kitna was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

2004 season

After learning the position his rookie season, Palmer was given the starting quarterback position for the 2004 season and started 13 games; the Bengals finished that season at 8–8.

Palmer made his NFL debut in Week 1 against the New York Jets. Palmer completed 18 out of 27 passes. He also threw 2 touchdown passes and an interception. The Jets would hold on to beat the Bengals, 31-24. "We came here expecting to win,” Palmer said. “We had what we needed. We had what we wanted. We had the ball with two minutes to go in good field position and I turned it over. I can’t make plays like that for us to win.”

In Week 2, Palmer struggled. He completed 21 out of 38 passes but threw no touchdown passes and 1 interception. But the Bengals won the game over the Miami Dolphins, giving Palmer his first win as a starter.

In Week 3, Palmer struggled again against the Baltimore Ravens. He completed 25 out of 52 passes for 316 passing yards. But he was picked off 3 times. The Bengals lost the game, 23-9. “You can’t get greedy,” Palmer said. “When you’re a young quarterback, you get greedy, and I have to fight that temptation. You need to develop patience. When something isn’t there, you don’t just throw it up in the air."

In Week 12, Palmer threw 4 touchdown passes for 251 passing yards against the Browns. He was also picked off 3 times. The Bengals won the game, 58-48. The 106 points was the second most points in an NFL game. “We kept putting them away, and they kept coming back,” said Palmer, who threw a career-high four touchdown passes. “We kept expecting them to slacken up, but they never did.”

In Week 13, Palmer built off of his amazing performance the week before. The Bengals (5-6) faced the Baltimore Ravens (7-4). Palmer would throw for a career high 382 passing yards and 3 touchdown passes. On the final drive of the game, Palmer made several big plays. He threw a 32-yard pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and a 22-yard pass to Chad Johnson. The Bengals won the game when Shayne Graham kicked a 24-yard field goal with 0:02 seconds left in the game.

2005 season

In 2005, the Palmer-led Cincinnati Bengals ended fifteen years of futility by notching their first winning season since 1990 and winning the division with an 11–5 record.

Statistically, Palmer had a stellar individual season, throwing a league-high 32 touchdown passes and leading the league in completion percentage. He became the first Cincinnati Bengals quarterback to finish with a quarterback rating over 100, setting the team record in that category; and he also tied Indianapolis' Peyton Manning for most consecutive games, 9, with a triple-digit quarterback rating.

In Week 1, Palmer completed 26 out of 34 passes and 2 passing touchdowns against the Browns. The Bengals won the game 27-13. In Week 2, Palmer had another great game, throwing for 337 yards to go along with 3 passing touchdowns and an interception. Palmer threw 3 more touchdown passes in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears to improve to 3-0. That was the first time the Bengals have started the season 3-0 since 1990.

In Week 4, Palmer again had a rating over 100 in a game against the Houston Texans. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 5, Carson completed 22 out of 33 passes for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, the Bengals lost their first game of the year, 23-20. The Bengals would bounce back against the Titans in Week 6. Palmer threw for 272 passing yards and 2 more passing touchdowns. His rating was over 100 for the ninth straight game dating back to last season. “He feels like he’s invincible, but right now he knows he can go win it the next play,” Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said of his quarterback. “He doesn’t have to win it on every play. And I think that says a lot for how he is and how important he is to this football team.”

Palmer's consecutive games streak of over a 100 quarterback rating ended in Week 7 against the Steelers. Carson completed 21 of 36 passes for 227 yards but was picked off 2 times and for the first time all season, failed to throw at least a touchdown in a game. “It wasn’t anything in particular they did,” said Palmer, who had a measly 53.8 passer rating for the game. “I just didn’t play well enough to win. I gave them two turnovers. When you play a championship team, you can’t do that.”

Palmer bounced back in Week 8 against the Green Bay Packers. He threw for 3 touchdown passes and an interception for 237 yards. The Bengals won the game, 21-14.

In Week 9, Palmer passed for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Bengals won their game against the Ravens. Palmer finished the season with a 101.1 rating.

Carson signed a six year contract extension through the 2014 season with the Bengals on December 29, 2005. In addition to the three years remaining on his existing deal, the value of the extension was worth id="mce_marker"18.75 million over nine years. "Hopefully this is the last place I'll end up playing," Palmer said. "That's so rare in this league these days. It's so rare to see a person have a 5-, 8-, 10-, 12-year career in one place. And I feel very fortunate that it looks like that's going to be my future."[5]

On January 8, 2006, the Bengals met their division rival Pittsburgh in the first round of the AFC playoffs at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

On the Bengals' first pass play, Carson Palmer threw a 66-yard pass to rookie receiver Chris Henry. It was the longest completion in Bengals playoff history. After Palmer released the pass, Steelers defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen dove at Palmer's left leg, violently wrenching Palmer's knee, and he was forced to leave the game. A magnetic resonance imaging test revealed a severe knee injury, thought to be career-threatening at the time; Palmer had tears of both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments as well as cartilage and meniscus damage. Coincidentally, Henry himself suffered a knee injury on the same play, though far less severe. Having knocked Palmer out of the game the Steelers went on to win 31–17.

During the off-season, the league's Rules Committee modified the rule regarding low hits on quarterbacks. The new rule prohibited defenders from hitting a passer at or below the knee unless they are blocked into him. The so-called "Oelhoffen Rule" now requires that defenders take every opportunity to avoid hitting a quarterback at or below the knees when the quarterback is in a defenseless position looking to throw with both feet on the ground.


Carson Palmer under center.

Palmer underwent reconstructive surgery on his injured knee in Houston, Texas on January 10, 2006. Lonnie Paulos, a surgeon who is independent of the Cincinnati Bengals, performed the operation. Initially, the Bengals organization stated that Palmer had torn the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments with no other damage. However, Paulos later told the Associated Press that the damage was more extensive and also included a dislocation of the patella. Paulos called the injury "devastating and potentially career-ending". The Bengals accepted Paulos' assessment[6]

Nonetheless, Palmer vowed he'd be the starting quarterback in the Bengals' regular season opener at Kansas City on September 10, 2006.

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis stated, "This is a serious injury, but we are told the procedure went very well. We know Carson, and we know he will apply himself fully to his rehabilitation. This result encourages our feeling that Carson will be ready to open the 2006 season as our starting quarterback."[7]

During his rehabilitation, Palmer has made several other pointed comments, particularly in an issue of Sports Illustrated,[8] in which he was on the cover shown using a relatively new form of therapy called the HydroWorx.[9] In the article, Palmer stated that: "I hate the Steelers more than I hate UCLA."

Palmer playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006.

2006 season

Palmer returned in time for the 2006 preseason. After the Bengals' 48–17 pre-season victory over the visiting Green Bay Packers on August 28, 2006, which saw Palmer complete 9 of 14 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns in just less than two quarters of play in his much-expected debut (which included an 11-yard run for a first down that culminated in a slide on his surgically repaired left knee), Palmer reiterated his position that he would be starting in the Bengals' season opener at Kansas City.

His performance drew rave reviews from many experts, many of whom expected far less of him less than a year after such a serious injury. ESPN analyst Joe Theismann, himself a former quarterback with the Washington Redskins (whose own career was ended by a gruesome broken leg against the New York Giants on November 18, 1985), praised Palmer for his mental toughness in taking hits and not being gun-shy about staying in the pocket where chances of injury are often high.

Palmer ended up starting all 16 of the Bengals' regular season games, missing only one snap, due to his getting the wind knocked out of him. He actually did not become totally comfortable with his repaired knee until week 9 against the Chargers when he threw for a career high of 440 yards. Despite his previous injury, he passed the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career, finishing the season with a franchise record 4,035 passing yards and 28 touchdowns, only 13 interceptions and 93.9 rating. He also made the Pro Bowl for the second year in a row, becoming the first Bengals quarterback to do this since Boomer Esiason in 1988 and 1989. Palmer was named Most Outstanding Player at the Pro Bowl, leading the AFC down the field in the final two minutes for the win. He completed 8 of 17 passes for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns, one to his Bengals teammate Chad Johnson. Palmer placed 3rd in voting for NFL Comeback Player of the Year, behind Drew Brees and Chad Pennington. Unfortunately, his team suffered quite a few misfortunes, such as missed point afters and field goals, while slipping from an 11–5 record in 2005 to 8–8 in 2006 and failing to make the playoffs due to a game 16 loss against their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After winning the Pro Bowl MVP, Palmer declared, "This is a huge honor and extremely exciting and I feel very blessed just to be here, let alone for the outcome to be this. But my goal's to be in a Super Bowl. And to win a Super Bowl. That's where my mind's at, and after this week I'm going to start focusing on that again." During the 2007 off-season, Palmer had scheduled workouts with not only Chad Johnson (which he usually did), but receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Tab Perry. He also said he was fully comfortable with his knee.[10]

2007 season

In the season opener on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens, Palmer went 20 for 32 with 194 yards and two touchdowns. Palmer and the Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens 27–20. He followed up this performance with 33 completions for 401 passing yards and a franchise record 6 touchdown passes the next week in a game against the Cleveland Browns. But even so, his team lost the game 51–45. Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson also threw for five touchdown passes in the game. It was only the third time in NFL history that two quarterbacks had thrown at least five touchdown passes in the same game.[11] In the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, 21–24, Palmer went 27 for 43 for 342 yards for a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions.

By week 8, Palmer and the Bengals were struggling. His team had only a 2–5 record and he had thrown 9 interceptions, the most by any quarterback in the AFC. However, he remained statistically productive, ranking fourth in the NFL in passing yards and fifth in touchdowns with a passer rating of over 90.

The Bengals' misfortunes continued throughout the season and a week 15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers ensured that the team would finish the season with a losing record for the first time since he had been their starting quarterback. In the same game, Palmer threw his 100th career touchdown pass, becoming the 5th fastest player ever to reach this milestone (59 games). Palmer finished the season with 376 completions for 4,131 yards and 26 touchdowns, with 20 interceptions. His 20 interceptions were a career high, but his 376 completions and 4,131 passing yards set new Bengals franchise records.

2008 season

In the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, Palmer was held to 99 yards and no touchdowns, completing only 10 out of 25 passes with an interception. For the first time in his career Palmer wore a clear protective visor because of a broken nose.[12] In the following 24–7 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Palmer was 16 of 27 for 134 yards and two interceptions. As the Bengals fell to 0–3 against the New York Giants in a 26–23 overtime loss, Palmer went 27 for 39 for 286 yards and a touchdown.

Due to a sore elbow, Palmer missed the next game against the Cleveland Browns, which ended in a loss. This ended Palmer's consecutive start streak of 51 games. Palmer returned the following week against the Dallas Cowboys and completed 23 of 39 of his passes for 217 yards, with two touchdowns, and an interception on the first passing play of the game.

The cause of Palmer's sore elbow was later diagnosed as a partially torn ligament and tendon and he was shelved for the remainder of the season. Palmer elected not to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the damage; instead, he chose to rest the elbow to allow it to heal. By March 2009, Palmer said that he was "100 percent" again.[13]

2009 season

In the season opener, Palmer threw the ball 33 times for 247 yards, 2 interceptions, and no touchdowns in a 12–7 loss against the Denver Broncos. The critics sought another mediocre season for the Bengals, with a lack of offensive production. The offense bounced back in week 2 against the Green Bay Packers. Palmer threw for 185 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions in a 31–24 win. In week 7 against the Chicago Bears, Palmer was 20 of 24 passing, with 5 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 146.7, in a 45–10 win. This win improved the Bengals' record to 5–2. After a 16–7 win against the Cleveland Browns in week 12, the Bengals swept their division for the first time in franchise history. Going into a week 15 game at San Diego, Bengals' receiver Chris Henry died. Playing with a heavy heart, Carson Palmer threw for 314 yards, with 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, but only to lose on a last second field goal by the Chargers. Palmer had a 91.7 passer rating with 2 touchdowns and only 1 interception in 17-10 week 16 win against the Kansas City Chiefs. This win assured the Bengals' first winning season and division title since 2005. In Palmer's first full playoff game, he struggled. Palmer threw the ball with a 50 percent completion percentage, with 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and a 53.8 passer rating, in a 24–14 loss to the New York Jets. Carson Palmer finished the 2009 season with a 60.5 completion percentage, 3,094 yards passing, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 83.6. He seemed to have taken a step back from where he was in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

2010 season

In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Bengals drafted 3 more receivers for Carson Palmer: Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham in the first round, Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley in the third round, and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe in the sixth round. During OTA's (Organized Team Activities), Palmer asserted himself as the leader of the team by calling out Chad Ochocinco, saying that the number one receiver should be there with the team.

During the 2010 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, Palmer completed 2 out of 5 passes for 18 yards, both to wide receiver Terrell Owens. Palmer and the Bengals started out the 2010 campaign with a 2-1 record, but would falter after that going on 10-game losing streak to finish out the season at 4-12. Statistically, Carson improved from the previous year as his attempts, completion percentage, yardage and touchdown numbers all rose (although he did throw more interceptions as well).

Following the Bengals' 4–12 finish in the 2010 season on January 23, 2011 Palmer requested to be traded.[14] Bengals president Mike Brown turned down Palmer's request the next day.[15] News reports said that Palmer is prepared to retire if necessary. WCPO-TV reported that a friend of Palmer quoted him as saying, "I will never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again"; "I have $80 million in the bank," Palmer reportedly said; "I don't have to play football for money. I'll play it for the love of the game, but that would have to be elsewhere."[16] Palmer's agent said, "Because of the lack of success that Carson and the Bengals have experienced together, Carson strongly feels that a separation between him and the Bengals would be in the best interest of both parties."[16] In 7 seasons under Palmer, the Bengals have appeared in the playoffs twice (2005 and 2009), and have not won any playoff games.

During an interview at the 2011 NFL Draft, head coach Marvin Lewis said that Carson Palmer told him he has plans to retire. In response, the Bengals selected TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second round. On July 26, 2011 a video posted on NFL.com showed a press conference held by Mike Brown, the president of the Bengals, stating that he did not expect Carson Palmer to return to the Bengals for the 2011-2012 season, the organization wished him well, and that there were no plans to trade him. When asked why he wouldn't trade Carson, Mike Brown answered:

"Carson signed a contract. He made a commitment. He gave his word. We relied on his word. We relied on his commitment. We expected him to perform here. He's going to walk away from his commitment. We aren't going to reward him for doing it."[17]

Consequently, Palmer was placed on the reserve/did not report list on July 29, 2011, after failing to report to training camp.[18][19] The Bengals, preparing for a future without Carson Palmer, selected QB Andy Dalton with their second choice in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Oakland Raiders

2011 season

With Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton having led his team to a conference-best 6-2 record after 9 weeks, the Bengals had zero motivation to negotiate for Palmer's return. But on October 18, 2011, after being contacted by the Oakland Raiders who had just lost starting quarterback Jason Campbell for the season and who were desperate to negotiate for Palmer, the Bengals agreed to trade the disgruntled Palmer. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was previously the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at USC and helped recruit Palmer, and was also the Bengals wide receivers coach during the prime of Palmer's career. Jackson's good relationship with both Palmer and the Bengals organization was key to the deal. In exchange for a player that the Bengals did not need and who stated he would never suit up for them again, the Bengals received Oakland's first-round pick in the 2012 draft and a conditional second-round pick in the 2013 draft, which would have become a first-round pick had the Raiders reached the AFC Championship game in 2011. [20][21] The trade was deemed to be one of the most one-sided trades in recent memory, and would be one of the factors that would result in Jackson being terminated after the season was over. Dalton would go on to lead the Bengals to the playoffs and would be selected to the Pro Bowl, while Jackson was soon re-hired by the Bengals as an assistant coach.

With punter Shane Lechler wearing Palmer's number 9 from Cincinnati, Palmer switched his jersey number to 3, his number at USC which was worn by Jon Kitna in Cincinnati at the time the Bengals drafted him. On October 23, Palmer came off the bench against the Kansas City Chiefs to relieve starting quarterback Kyle Boller who had thrown 3 interceptions and had the team down 21-0. Palmer completed 8 of his 21 for 116 yards and threw 3 interceptions in his Raider debut. He stated after the game, "I was told I was not going to play. I didn't know the offense, I also hadn't been training and working out, so it was a complete shock to me at halftime when (Raiders coach Hue Jackson) told me, 'Hey, you know we're going to get you in, in the third quarter.'"[22] In his first start for the Raiders two weeks later Palmer threw for over 330 yards and had three touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

In his second start as a Raider during the Week 11 Thursday Night game against the division rival San Diego Chargers, Palmer showed further progress as he finished the game completing 14 of 20 passes for 299 yards and threw two touchdowns and a single interception for a QB rating of 125.0 in a 24-17 road win that would ultimately give the Raiders the lead in the division. After going 0 for 2, Palmer would complete 10 straight passes including two touchdowns of 33 & 26 yards to rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore. Palmer was on course for a perfect passer rating of 158.3 until he took a hit from Chargers' linebacker Travis LaBoy while attempting a pass early in the Fourth Quarter that resulted in wobbly pass picked-off by Paul Oliver.

The Raiders ended the season 8-8, 4-5 under Palmer. They lost the AFC West tiebreaker to the Denver Broncos and finished one game out of the playoffs.


Regular season

2003CIN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2004CIN 13 13 432 263 60.9 2,897 6.7 18 18 77.3 18 47 2.6 1 25 178 2 2
2005CIN 16 16 509 345 67.8 3,836 7.5 32 12 101.1 34 41 1.2 1 19 105 5 2
2006CIN 16 16 520 324 62.3 4,035 7.8 28 13 93.9 26 37 1.4 0 36 233 15 7
2007CIN 16 16 575 373 64.9 4,131 7.2 26 20 86.7 24 10 0.4 0 17 119 5 1
2008CIN 4 4 129 75 58.1 731 5.7 3 4 69.0 6 38 6.3 0 11 67 2 0
2009CIN 16 16 466 282 60.5 3,094 6.6 21 13 83.6 39 93 2.4 3 26 213 6 2
2010CIN 16 16 586 362 61.8 3,970 6.8 26 20 82.4 32 50 1.6 0 26 201 7 3
2011OAK 10 9 328 199 60.7 2,753 8.4 13 16 80.5 16 20 1.3 1 17 119 2 1


2005CIN 1 1 1 1 100.0 66 66.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2009CIN 1 1 36 18 50.0 146 4.06 1 1 58.3 1 2 2.00 0


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