A year ago, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback competition spanned five preseason games and carried through August.
This season, the Cardinals gave themselves a five-month head start with a declaration by new head coach Bruce Arians.
"All of you have asked me about the quarterback position. I'm here to introduce our starting quarterback. And put it to bed. And I'm really happy about it," Arians said off the top of a well-attended press conference. "We're extremely excited about our new starting quarterback: Carson Palmer."
Here's the game plan: low risk, high return. That's the motivation behind swapping picks this year (moving down 43 spots) and giving up a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014 (if Palmer starts at least 13 games).
"Obviously, I saw that they were headed in a different direction and this opportunity arose. It's a chance to start. A chance to play for a guy that I have a lot of respect for."
So how does Palmer fit into Arians' offensive philosophy of an aggressive passing game that aims to pick up yardage in chunks, not tidbits?
"Having seen him throw it down the field so many times over the years – as good as it gets," Arians smiled. "I don't think there has been anyone better than Carson in the last few years...in throwing the ball down the field. That's been his forte forever."
Palmer agreed to a revised two-year contract worth up to $20 million, with $10 million guaranteed.
In the process, the former #1 pick overall in the 2003 NFL Draft not only gives the Cards their fourth different starting QB to open a season since Kurt Warner retired in 2009, but Palmer also arrives as a proven performer with a track record to match (unlike the signal callers before him – Derek Anderson, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton).
Now, if only Cardinals fans can believe in their new QB and what the 33-year-old says about the state of his game.
"I know I have a lot of tread left on my tires. I know my body very well. I've taken very good care of it over the years and I know what I have left," Palmer said when asked about rejuvenating his career in Arizona, akin to Kurt Warner. "I'd love to be compared to some of the things that he did here when it's my time to leave here."