Carson Hilton Palmer (born December 27, 1979) is a former American football quarterback who played 15 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals. He played college football at USC and won the Heisman Trophy in 2002.
The first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, Palmer was chosen by the Bengals, for whom he played eight seasons. During his tenure in Cincinnati, he helped lead the team to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 15 years and was named to two Pro Bowls. Amid declining success and conflicts with Bengals ownership, Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders, where he played for two seasons before joining Arizona.
With the Cardinals, Palmer rejuvenated his career in his last five seasons with the team. He enjoyed his most successful year in 2015, where he aided the Cardinals in reaching the NFC Championship and was named to his third Pro Bowl, in addition to being a second-team All-Pro. Palmer retired following the 2017 regular season after 14 seasons with three teams.
Palmer, 38, who was drafted first overall in 2003, said he felt the time was right to walk away from football.
Palmer’s career, in essence, ended Week 7 in London, when he broke his left arm against the Los Angeles Rams. Blaine Gabbert (five games) and Drew Stanton (four) started at quarterback for the rest of the season.
Palmer went 38-21-1 during five years in Arizona, which included leading the Cardinals to a 13-3 record and a spot in the NFC Championship Game during an MVP-caliber 2015 season. That was the furthest he went in the postseason.
Carson Palmer has decided to retire after 15 years in the NFL. His final season ended in Week 7 when he broke his left arm. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire
Palmer won the Heisman Trophy for USC in 2002 and threw for Hall of Fame-caliber numbers in the NFL, but his 15 years were marred by injuries, disagreements with management and playing for bad teams.
Palmer threatened to retire from the Bengals in 2011 after requesting a trade that wasn’t immediately granted. Palmer began to go through with his threat, and sat out the first six games of the season before Cincinnati sent him to the Raiders. Palmer finished the 2011 season in Oakland and played there in 2012 before the Raiders traded him to the Cardinals in April 2013.
In Arizona, Palmer doubled his number of career playoff games from two to four and had the best season in 2015, when he threw for a career-high 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Palmer had two major knee injuries in his career, tearing the ACL in his left knee twice, once in 2006 and again in 2014. He missed 42 games during his career, not counting the 16 he spent on the bench his rookie year.
Palmer will retire fourth in Cardinals history in passing yard and touchdowns. He owns the franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season, both set in 2015.