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Palmer had, multiple times, said he expected to play this season. But he left some doubt by saying he wanted to first see how his body responded to down time. Health was the major factor for the 37-year-old, who coach Bruce Arians said "got the hell beat out of him this year.”
"My intent was to take some time after the season to get away and see where I was physically and mentally," Palmer said in a statement released by the team. "On both fronts, I can say I'm ready to get back to work and prepare for the 2017 season. This is a phenomenal group with a very special opportunity in front of it. I know how rare that is and I couldn't be more excited to be a part of it.”
Palmer's 2017 salary of $15.5 million becomes fully guaranteed Friday.
As AZCardinals.com's Darren Urban noted, Palmer was sacked 40 times – 15 more than in 2015 – and was hit the third-most in the NFL this season.
But Palmer's return always trended toward likely. Even Arians acknowledged that recently when he noted Palmer "said earlier he wanted to play and I think he does.”
After the final home game of the 2016 season, Palmer was asked if he was going to play in 2017.
"I haven't even thought about that,” Palmer said at the time. "But, I expect to. I'd like to.”
Once Fitzgerald committed – a move many believe wouldn't have happened without the confidence Palmer would be his quarterback – Palmer's similar move never felt that far behind.
Palmer missed one game this season due to a concussion. He still set a personal high for pass attempts with 597, completing 364 for 4,233 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Indeed, Palmer finished the last six weeks of the season on a high note, rekindling memories of his 2015 season and making Arians and GM Steve Keim believe the 37-year-old has more left in him.
He is signed through the 2018 season.
As Profootballtalk.com's Darin Gantt noted, the Cardinals are still going to be looking for a potential replacement.
That said, Arians made it clear he feels an obligation to find the team's quarterback of the future when he said, "That will be one of our main objectives in the offseason is to make sure the franchise isn't in the situation it was after Kurt (Warner), that the next guy is here and ready to roll."
Meanwhile, in case you missed it, Fitzgerald confirmed a week ago that he would be back to play a 14th NFL season.
In a text to Urban, Fitzgerald confirmed that he would play another season.
At 33, Fitzgerald led the NFL in receptions last season with 107. ...
Also worth noting. ... Even with Palmer and Fitzgerald returning, there's no doubt the offense will continue to run through David Johnson, who led the NFL in touchdowns (20) and yards from scrimmage (2,118) and can even get better.
SO it's good news to learn his rehab is ahead of schedule six weeks after suffering a sprained MCL suffered in Week 17.
During his end-of-season press conference on Jan. 2, a day after Johnson's injury, Arians estimated Johnson's rehab time at six to eight weeks.
As ESPN.com's Josh Weinfuss reported, on Feb. 8, Johnson posted a video on Twitter of him jumping out of a rehab pool, with the water around mid-thigh height, at the Cardinals' practice facility. Accompanying the photo was the caption "Progress going great!”
"To jump out of a shallow pool onto the deck is a feat unto itself," Weinfuss explained. "To do it almost six weeks after suffering a knee injury is in an entirely different category."
Remember, Johnson had more than 100 yards from scrimmage in his first 15 games of 2016 and was on pace to become the first player to hit the century mark in all 16 before he suffered the knee injury late in the first quarter of the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams. I'll have more on his progress as developments warrant in coming weeks.