Waiting for Palmer, ranking the Cardinals’ QBs

Posted by Darren Urban on February 7, 2017 – 2:15 pm

Fitz said he’s coming back and it seems like only a matter of time before Carson Palmer does the same. I get why some have trepidation that Palmer has yet to officially say anything, but knowing Palmer, he really didn’t want to even make coming back a “thing” if he could’ve helped it; if Bruce Arians hadn’t mentioned that Palmer was on the fence, I’m not sure anyone would even be thinking about it.

(As a side note, on Friday Palmer’s 2017 salary of $15.5 million becomes fully guaranteed. Fitz’s $11M salary also becomes guaranteed that day.)

It’s important to have Palmer, of course. I’ve heard from fans who think otherwise, who want to move on, but that makes no sense to me. Not that it matters — Palmer, if he wants to play, is the quarterback. But anytime that subject comes up, it makes me think of the lengthy list of QBs this franchise has had since moving to Arizona. So, as the 2016 season fades and we wait for the 2017 season to gain steam, I thought I’d do a power ranking of the QBs this team has had since 1988, the year they came to the desert. My one requirement: A QB had to have at least 10 starts (eliminating some half-season greats like Boomer Esiason, Derek Anderson and Jay Schroeder. Feel free to insert them into your own list if you choose.) There have been a few.

  1. 1. Kurt Warner: He’s a Hall of Famer and the lone guy to get the Cards to a Super Bowl. So, yeah. He’s the best.
  2. 2. Palmer: He has plenty of critics. But he’s been pretty good. He’s won a lot of games. And, save for 2014, he’s been durable.
  3. 3. Neil Lomax: Oh, that hip.
  4. 4. Jake Plummer: Beloved local hero finally got the Cardinals to the playoffs. So fun to watch. Sometimes, frustrating to watch.
  5. 5. Kevin Kolb: He was usually solid — he could just never stay healthy. Beat the Patriots in New England.
  6. 6. Steve Beuerlein: Maybe things would’ve been a little different if Buddy Ryan hadn’t shown up.
  7. 7. Josh McCown: The man Denny Green believed in enough to justify drafting Fitz.
  8. 8. Timm Rosenbach: Another guy you wonder about had he had health.
  9. 9. Matt Leinart: He did just fine his first two starts. But post-Monday Night Meltdown, and after Kurt, everything changed.
  10. 10. Dave Krieg: To be a QB on a Buddy Ryan team couldn’t have been easy.
  11. 11. Kent Graham: Had the misfortune of trying to be the placeholder for Jake the Snake.
  12. 12. Chris Chandler: One year as full-time starter got 15 TDs, 15 picks and 12 losses.
  13. 13. Jeff Blake: Once, I asked him about his career. “It’s not like I’ve played bad ball,” he said. “I’ve just been on bad teams.”
  14. 14. Gary Hogeboom: Those years after Lomax were tough.
  15. 15. John Skelton: Cards managed to go .500 with him taking over for Kolb in 2011. Fitz helped.
  16. 16. Tom Tupa: He was a punter first for a reason.



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50 Responses to “Waiting for Palmer, ranking the Cardinals’ QBs”

  1. By The Chris B on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    This list just makes me sad.

    And yet, there’s teams like Colts and Packers that had two great QBs back to back.


  2. By BuckeyeChris on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Tupa had one amazing pass up the seam for a TD versus the Jets. That’s all I remember. Probably his career highlight.

  3. By joe holst on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Supa Tupa oh boy

  4. By shannon robinson on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Of course my favorite was Stony Case from University of New Mexico!

  5. By D on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Great List Darren…I hear players that were on those Jeff Blake teams stated Mr. Blake would talk about himself in the 3rd Person…can’t remember the nickname given to him..

    My buddy played High School football with K. Graham in the Burbs of Chicago…said he had his fingers broken because of Kent only threw it has hard as he could even in practice..

    We could debate that 2004 draft for weeks…drafting a HOF WR over Big Ben who will be a HOF QB some day…that would be a fun topic….

    Palmer is ranked correctly, behind Mr. Warner…

  6. By Kevin S Mesa on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    When Kevin Kolb is #5 on your list of 16 guys — and that only includes the guys with significant starts, not the Max Halls and Derek Andersons — it shows you how bad the QB situation has been here.

    I guess I’m sort-of glad the Kolb experiment didn’t work out. If he had been able to stay reasonably healthy, the 2012 team might have meandered to 8-8 and then Whiz likely would’ve gotten another year. We’d never have gotten BA or Palmer and experienced those three double-digit win seasons.

    This chart kinda shows our problem in a nutshell, though. Four of the top six guys are guys we didn’t draft. I would imagine that if you picked the top QB’s for most teams over the same period, the majority of guys at the top of most franchises’ lists would be guys they drafted.

  7. By scott on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    You left Jim Hart out !

  8. By Andy Kw on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Jim Hart?

  9. By Scott H on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Wow….I gotta say, this a pretty sad lot once you get beyond Plummer. Isn’t it?? Man, you take Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer out of this picture, and…..holy cow. But these lists are meant to have fun with, so let me throw a few thoughts out there I’m sure many will disagree with ( like most things I post ).

    First, right off the bat, I’m not so sure I put Palmer ahead of Lomax. Neil Lomax was a DAMN GOOD QB ( who, like Jeff Blake, was stuck on a lot of bad teams ). And, yes, so is Palmer. But I think Lomax has a legit case to be #2 on this list – or at least tied for it. Yes, there has been better team success during Palmer’s time. But there is no doubt there has also been more talent and better coaching during Palmer’s time. There is a debate to be had here.

    My God, is Kevin Kolb really #5 on this list???? It doesn’t seem possible, but….maybe it is.

    I might have to put Josh McCown a spot or two higher. Seems like he’s actually played his best football in recent years. A solid veteran QB who could have done more with a better team. Look at how the the Bears offense was humming a few years back when McCown stepped in for Cutler.

    In the battle of oft-injured QB’s – Kolb vs Rosenbach – I’ll take Timmy boy any day. I think Timmy Rosenbach could have been special. If I could grant anyone on this list a 2nd chance at an NFL career, it would be him. If he could have stayed healthy, I think he might very well hold a much more special place in Cardinals history.

    I have always loved, will always love Jake Plummer!

    I agree that Beuerlein could have done more with a coach NOT named Buddy Ryan. He was a very decent QB.

    Hogeboom? Tupa? Blake? My God, these guys were actually STARTING QB’s for this team. Was it REALLY that bad? Good lord.

    And don’t know about anyone else, but I’m taking Skelton over Leinart. I really am.

    No, I’m not inserting Anderson or Shroeder anywhere on this list. I have no interest even thinking about it.

    And Esiason actually had some VERY good games here. Just not nearly enough. He also pulled a real jack-ass move by clearing out his locker and leaving the team for a one-day tantrum when he was benched for….wasn’t it Kent Graham?

    Anyway…..great blog, Darren. Feel free to post similar blogs for other positions during this down time of the year. Need something to keep it interesting!

  10. By SCarolinaCard on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    It would be cool to see a list of Fitz’s TD receptions broken down amongst all the QB’s that have thrown to him.

  11. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Scarolina —

    RE: Fitz list

    This was his list going into last season.

    Stanton now has two, and Palmer has four more.

  12. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Warner was better than all the other guys put together.

  13. By Mike Hawley on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    1. Warner
    2. Palmer
    3. Plummer
    4. Lomax
    5. Berlieun
    6. Chandler
    7. McCown
    8. Blake
    9. Leinart
    10. Kolb

  14. By georgiebird on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    You forgot the great Shaun King. King was the guy Denny Green decided to play after Josh McCown had won 2 or three in a row.

  15. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    All —

    RE: “You forgot”

    I didn’t forget anyone. If a guy didn’t make the list, he didn’t have 10 starts — which I mentioned in the post as my cutoff.

    Also, again as I mentioned in the post, these were QBs from after the move to Arizona. St. Louis QBs weren’t included.

  16. By Stuck in California on Feb 7, 2017 | Reply

    Wow. The fact that Timm Rosenbach is in the TOP half of that list speaks volumes. That is a brutal, brutal list from 5 to 16.

  17. By cardsbaby on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    People that want to move on from Palmer are ignoramus cromugins. There is no one on the roster to replace him and the heir apparent is going to take time especially if we draft him. Hopefully there is not as big a gap as there was from Warner to Palmer to our next real play caller.

  18. By Hammy on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    @Darren nice quarterbacks list. Makes me like Palmer more and more. I just hope they are able to bring in the right kind of quarterback for this club. I think we would have a better chance to continue to compete if we have a quarterback that can be a duel threat passing and running. We need play makers! By the way congrats Michael Floyd for winning a championship, not gonna say you deserve it but, its good to see a former Cardinal win even though he didnt play.

  19. By Scott H on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Hammy –

    RE: Congrats to Floyd

    Dude, if you can find it in you to wish Michael Floyd congrats on “winning” a SB… are far better person than I am.

    YOU had as much to with the Pats winning that SB as Floyd did. I’d rather see YOU get that ring! 🙂

  20. By Scott H on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    Refresh my memory on this….was it McCown who made that pass to Nate Poole for the TD on the last play of that game years ago that knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs? My 2nd guess would be Graham, but I’m thinking it was McCown.

    Man, that HAS to go down as one of THE most memorable plays in Cardinals history. What was it, 4th and goal from about the 28 on that play??? Amazing.

    I remember Nate Poole being a guest of the Packers at their playoff game at home a week later! That was as good as it got for Nate Poole. He was king for a day at Lambeau!

  21. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Scott H —

    RE: McCown to Poole

    Yes, it was Josh. (Video at the bottom)

  22. By Cardguest on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Cardinal Chandler was before my time. But I’m surprised he was that bad. He was a pretty good quarterback in Atlanta.

    I would also put McCown over Kolb. But I get your point. Pretty sad list once you get past Plummer.

  23. By Hammy on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    RE: Scott H

    I hear ya brother!

  24. By Eric G on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Reading this list, I think we all have the same question for ourselves: Remind me how the hell am I still a Cardinals fan?

    That is a brutal list. Not a single draft pick that made it more than a couple of years. Damned depressing.

  25. By Scott H on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Eric G –

    Yeah, maybe it’s better we not actually see this on paper! Pretty damn scary when you see a list like this. But, hey, it’s gotta be better than the list of Browns QB’s during the same time.

  26. By Scott H on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Darren –

    RE: Poole TD catch

    I just watched it and now I have another question – is that Boldin who almost kills him with that body slam??? Good lord, I thought Fitz was dangerous!

  27. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Here is what I find interesting about the list;
    Warner, Palmer, Beaurlein, Dave Kreig, Chris Chandler, Jeff Blake, Gary Hogaboom , Even Boomer, were guys trying to revive their careers with a chance to start in AZ.

    The cards seem to look for vets looking for one last chance, and got lucky with Warner and Palmer.

    When drafting, the Arizona Cardinals have drafted only one QB in the top 40 picks in the NFL draft since their existence. Matt Leinart is the only QB drafted in round one. He was labeled a gift from heaven by Denny Green. He showed promise, but a coaching change ended his career.

    If you want to continue the list, you will continue the pattern of not drafting first round QBs and hoping older QBs and late draft picks will change things.

    With that being said, Palmer is the QB for these az cardinals. If they want to win, he is their guy.

    But the next guy after Palmer, hopefully won’t be the next Chris Chandler, or Gary Hogaboom. Hopefully, the cards take their time and draft a QB in round one of 2018.

    If you wanted to draft a Deshone Kiser in 2017, at least you are giving the team a chance to have a QB for the next 10 years or so. After all, hopefully you will never pick this high again.

    Personally, I would draft the wrs this year. Mike Williams is head and shoulders the best in this draft. Come back and draft and sign olineman. Get the receivers and oline squared away. Then, in 2018, draft that first round QB.

  28. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Draft QBs

    In this case, when you talk history, this is a spot I definitely agree with you. Considering how much this team once drafted in the top 10, it’s actually surprising they never took anyone but Leinart in the first round.

  29. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply


    I know it is very early in the process. And I am asking what the cards would do, not you personally, So, I won’t hold you to anything. But we as fans keep saying get this guy or that guy. So, as an insider,your best guess;

    – Is Evan Boehm the starting center in 2017?

    – Did Bethel do enough to be the slot CB ?

    – Will the RG be a FA, draft pick, or is on the roster?

    – With Veldheer moving to Rt and having a 10 million dollar hit in 2018, is this his last year with the cards?

    – Are the two starting ILBs on the roster currently? (obviously Bucannon being one)

    – Who are the starting safeties in 2017 ?

    – Finally, will the starting dline be Nkemdiche, Williams, and Gunter ?

    Just like to hear your best guess and anyone else who wants to chime in

  30. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Questions

    So early, but, here on Feb. 8, my best guesses:

    1) No. At least not at the outset (I am very much on the fence with this, but B.A./Goody love A.Q.)

    2) If Mathieu is healthy, he is the slot CB.

    3) I’ll go FA. Goody doesn’t like playing rookies on the OL.

    4) Not necessarily. If he stayed at LT and Hump at RT, you’d be spending the same amount of money on your tackles anyway. Don’t see why it makes a big difference when you combine them.

    5) I think they try and upgrade from Minter. Is it Moore? Probably seek someone else. At least make the effort.

    6) Mathieu and TBD.

    7) If you are saying those three exact guys, I’ll say no. Mauro is in the mix. And Peters is still here.

  31. By Eric G on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Never mind, there is one, Jake the Snake was drafted by the Cards and played for many year, but that man shortened my life span. He was the reason they were called the Cardiac Cards. I heard someone call him a modern day Steve DeBerg, he kept both teams in the game. No better description than that.

  32. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply


    Is Campbell here?

  33. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Campbell

    Here in Arizona? I don’t know.

  34. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    So Darren,
    your best guess would be FA money spent on cardinal FAs (safeties a question mark), and most likely bring in a guard.

    I didn’t ask you about CB, but I would guess they want to upgrade. FA ?

    So, 40 million give or take, goes to resigning Jones, AQ, maybe a safety , maybe Campbell. The FAs are a RG and possibly an ILB and CB.

    Would that sum it up?

    I have been outspoken against it, But If you answer all your questions in FA, don’t you have to really consider a QB at 13?

  35. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: FA

    I this point, I hesitate to say what will happen in FA because so much depends on what happens over the next month. They are trying to resign a few guys, and we know the main ones. If they are able to — or if they are not — dictates FA.

    As for the 13th pick at QB, I have long held (and I know you disagree) that QB has to be seriously considered at 13 even if you do NOT answer all questions in FA. The main reason is, if you truly feel that QB of the future is there, you absolutely must take him. But even aside from that — you have said, take a guy who can help this year. But even if they get a first-round guy at another position, will they play him?

  36. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply


    Back in December, I would say I wanted to draft Deshone Kiser with the 13th pick.

    Today, emotionally, I want a guy who could help give us a championship in 2017 and a QB would not do that. A guy like Mike Williams, who is a lot like Larry, would give us that #1 for years to come.

    But logically speaking, and I was GM, if Kiser is there at 13, I would have a very very hard time passing on him. So, if Keim pulls the trigger on a QB at 13, I promise you will not hear me ripping him for it. It just makes sense.

    So, if it is Kiser and Mike Williams sitting there at 13, it will take me back to Big Ben and Larry Fitz in 2004. Choosing Big Ben gives stability to the QB spot, but man it was nice to have Larry.

  37. By JTDG on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply


    One more thing,

    Wouldn’t it make sense, in his contract year, Troy Niklas has a big year and the debates start about resigning him or not?

    Seriously though, if healthy , does he have the potential to be a starting TE in this league ?

    He is injured so much, it is hard to say. I watched him block well , then catch a ball down the middle, then hear he is out again.

    Any info on what BA thinks?

  38. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Niklas

    I’d agree. I don’t know what to make of Niklas because he has barely played. I don’t think anyone here has a clear picture.

  39. By SCarolinaCard on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Thanks for Fitz TD/QB breakdown Darren! That’s a lot of QB’s.

  40. By georgiebird on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Shaun King belongs on the QB list. He may have played only three games but it felt like an eternity

  41. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2017 | Reply

    Georgie —

    RE: King

    OK, I’ll admit, I literally laughed out loud on that one.

  42. By clssylssy on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    Going into this offseason, we have sooooo many needs and relatively small resources, so, I can only hope that our scouting people and Keim in particular, will be more vigilant about a players medical history and previous injuries before considering them for signing. Signing guys who have been cut b/c significant injury kept them off the field or compromised their production, should be a red flag that we should pass on. A “discount” or “bargain” is only a good deal if useful and there is production –we have enough “projects” already. We have never had a ranked O-line b/c it has never been a priority, and the few good QBs we’ve had have been beat to Hell, fighting to stay upright, with Palmer now the latest casualty, on the verge of opting out.
    Let’s hope that HEALTH AND DURABILITY become standards, and that our front office was taking notes while watching the playoffs. We can’t afford any more Ryan Swopes or 3 year projects and we are going to need big impact players if we want to win the Division back. Probably would help to have a few fresh ideas to infuse into our play calling as it seems everyone has figured us out and we have become yesterday’s news overnight with LA and the 9ers hungry to become legit.
    This has to be a WIN NOW year to reestablish the Cardinals as a contender and it has to start with healthy, durable, tough players with the stamina to go the distance. Our history would support the fact that we do better with players who have a little maturity at the QB position, and drafting a QB just for the sake of taking someone is a waste of a pick (as it has been in recent years) when we could use the pick more efficiently in a trade to take a quality impact player of need like Mike Williams.

  43. By Scott H on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    Here’s a thought for the QB list…..even if he doesn’t meet the criteria to be included, where would people put Stanton among this cast of characters? I mean, having a decent win-loss record in games he has started has to put him ahead of many of these guys. And I say rightfully so.

    Though he didn’t do much of note for the Cardinals, I think Chandler is a QB that was better than how he is actually remembered. He DID take the Falcons to a SB about 20 years ago…..yet another QB who was solid enough to have perhaps had a decent career if he had been able to settle in with one team, played there for a good stretch, and had decent talent around him.

    Geez….how many other QB’s on this list does that also hold true for? As JTDG points out, so many of these guys were journeymen types who did what journeymen QB’s did – went from team to team ( most of them bad teams ) hoping to catch on. When it didn’t happen quickly, teams became impatient and looked to somebody else. Unfortunately, that too often described how the Cardinals were operating. They found magic with Warner and Palmer but the failures have far out-numbered the instances of magic.

    Sooner or later, they GOTTA get it right in the draft.

  44. By Big Ken on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    Goody doesn’t like playing rookies on the O-line. That’s telling. I think there are some premier interior O-linemen available in the second round, ie Feeney, Dawkins, Elflein. But now I think these guys get passed on. Besides we already have some young vets on the roster fighting for a job.

  45. By georgiebird on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    Can’t believe the Cards have spent more time in AZ than in St Lou. Although understandable, it was a shock to my system when you said that STL quarterbacks were not included on your list- it seems like the move was made a couple of years ago.
    And the thought to ignoring Chicago Cardinals’ QBs circa the Dark Ages.
    Looked it up and saw where Paul Christman and Lamar McHan were the best of the Chicago teams having career passing yardage of 6,000 yards but the one and only Championship..

  46. By JTDG on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply


    I wanted to follow up on something you said.

    Your comment of, “if the draft someone in round one, will they play him anyway.”

    That got me thinking. If the cards grab an ILB or CB in round 1 or 2 and say, not add anyone other than Moore (ILB) and Cooper (CB), would you say, from the cards history with BA, that they will not play the rookie?

    Do you think 2017’s success or failure will depend on the current players and free agent brought in, and very little about the draft class of 2017 ?

  47. By Darren Urban on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: First round picks

    I don’t know. Obviously Mathieu played right away. Cooper was going to play right away before he got hurt. I’m not sure Bucannon would’ve had DWash not gotten suspended.

    In the end, I think it all depends on the draft pick(s). I don’t think there’s a hard and fast policy. Given all the free agents who may not return, some choices may be made for Arians.

  48. By Big Ken on Feb 9, 2017 | Reply

    Well I know we gotta swoop in on Zeitler. If there was ever a guy we ‘money whipped’. And JTDG I still think the Bills find a way to keep Gilmore.

  49. By JTDG on Feb 10, 2017 | Reply

    Big Ken,

    You may be right. It is always difficult to know who the FAs are going to be at this point.

    I mean Chandler Jones is listed as a 2017 FA and we know he will be franchised. So, in reality, we all are jumping the gun on who we want without knowing who is available.

    I will say, the Bengals resigned Clint Bowling at Right Guard in 2015. They drafted Christian Westernman in 2016 and really like him. Being Zeitler is going to be high dollar and they must resign their LT, I think they are prepared to let Zeitler walk.

    I think he gets between 11-13 million a year. The cards can do it if they want to push the contract into 2018 and I think they should do it. I just would be surprised if they do it.

  50. By Darren Urban on Feb 10, 2017 | Reply

    JTDG —

    RE: Guard money

    No way the Cardinals pay big money to two guards.

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