Celebrating their 100th year in the NFL this September, the Arizona Cardinals have had a long journey in football. Such longevity has given the Phoenix-based franchise a decent amount of high points to celebrate and, of course, moments they’d rather forget. They’ve also had their fair share of quarterbacks along the way.
Anyone who knows football understands how important the quarterback is to any team. Great on-field commanders can provide leadership as well as consistent play giving their team a chance to win each and every game they play. Currently, the Arizona Cardinals are in the enviable position of having one of the most dynamic athletes and youngest QBs in their locker room.
The top pick of the 2019 NFL draft, Kyler Murray has already flashed his potential to become an all-time Arizona great in just his rookie season. The former Heisman Trophy winner broke almost every rookie-quarterback record in franchise history. He passed for 3,722 yards with a 64.4 completion percentage, throwing 20 touchdowns.
Although all signs are pointing to Murray having a shot at legend status with the Cards and in the entire NFL, even already drawing comparisons to Russell Wilson, it still only one season and he’s got a few names to compete with in Arizona’s storied history.
So, before he stars year two of his NFL journey, let’s take a look at the three quarterbacks in Arizona Cardinals history that Murray will be chasing.
3. Carson Palmer (2013-17)
Regular season record: 38-21-1; Playoffs: 1-1
First up, fellow Heisman winner and number one overall pick, Carson Palmer. Drafter by the Bengals in 2003, Palmer arguably had his best years in Cincinnati. He was two-time Pro Bowler as a Bengal and even led the NFL in touchdown passes in 2005. The USC product also had the most completions and best percentage of his career while playing in Paul Brown Stadium. However, it did not end well in Cincinnati and he even had a short-lived retirement in 2010.
After a quick stint with the Oakland Raiders, he finally found himself in Arizona via trade. Their were a lot of doubts about his arrival having steered the Raiders to a 8-15 record in the 23 games they started him. But Palmer put those thoughts to bet fairly easy.
In his first outing with the Cardinals, Palmer threw for 4, 274 becoming the only quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards on three different teams. The next season looked even better. Arizona started off with a 6-0 record and Palmer had his best QB rating since his sophomore season. Their run was stopped preemptively, however, when Palmer tore his ACL—the second time in his career.
He’d come back stronger the following year setting both franchise and personal records for passing yards, passing touchdowns, and QB rating. All this earned Palmer his first All-Pro selection and, more importantly, his first trip to the postseason. Ultimately his time with Cardinals and his career would unfortunately come to end after breaking his arm in 2017.
As a Cardinal, Palmer completed a total 1,373 passes for 16,782 yards and 105 touchdowns. When it comes to raw stats and the win-loss column, Palmer is unopposed.
2. Jim Hart (1966-83)
Regular season record: 87-88-5; Playoffs: 0-1
Though Hart is no where near Palmer’s statistical dominance, he beats him out on longevity alone.
Jim Hart spent 18 years with the Arizona Cardinals. To give you some perspective, that’s eight more than the two other players on our list combined. If you add in Kyler Murray and his rookie season and Jake Plummer, the only other noteworthy candidate from the past two decades, Hart would still have two years on them.
Though playoff success eluded him, his loyalty to the Cards was still rewarded with him holding multiple franchise passing records, as well as affinity with the fanbase.
Harts totals ring to a tune of 2,590 completed passes for 34,639 yards and 209 touchdowns. Although he also holds the unenviable distinction of having 247 picked passes.
1. Kurt Warner (2005-09)
Regular season record: 27-30; Playoffs: 4-2
No arguments here and anyone alive for that 2008 run to the Super Bowl would definitely agree.
Warner was 34 years old and had already played over a decade of pro football before ever putting on a Cards jersey. He was a two-time MVP and led the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl twice, winning in 1999 and falling to the Patriots in 2001.
And apparently, he still had more left in the tank.
This did not show until the 2008 postseason. The first few seasons were rocky but eventually the patience would payoff and Warner would give the franchise a playoff run for the ages. Arizona entered as a wild card team, but Warner led them to thrilling Super Bowl XLIII, where they lost the Steelers on a game-winning touchdown by Santonio Holmes.
He did not have Palmer’s stats or Hart’s longevity but he did win when it mattered and he gave his franchise one its best runs in history.