If the Arizona Cardinals did not make any changes at the top of their quarterback depth chart this offseason, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton would have combined to earn $12.13 million in cash and count $14.175 million against the team's salary cap.
Instead, the Cardinals released Kolb, signed free agent Drew Stanton, acquired Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders and waived Skelton. Those four transactions, along with Palmer agreeing to renegotiate the two years and $28 million that remained on his Raiders contract, will result in the Cardinals saving $1.13 million in cash and $2.46 million in cap space at the top of their quarterback depth chart this season.
According to a source with knowledge of Palmer's renegotiated deal with the Cardinals, the 33-year-old, who was scheduled to receive $13 million in base salary from the Raiders, received a $6 million signing bonus and will have a 2013 base salary of $2 million, which is fully guaranteed.
Palmer has a first-year cap number of $4 million as he is technically signed through the 2015 season. The third season, which was included to allow the signing bonus to be prorated over three seasons, calls for a $10 million base salary, but voids if Palmer is still on the roster five days after Super Bowl XLIX.
Palmer is scheduled to earn $8 million in base salary in 2014, $2 million of which is also fully guaranteed at this time, and is currently scheduled to have a $10 million cap number in that season. Palmer is eligible to trigger escalators that could increase his base salary and cap number in 2014.
Combined, Stanton and Palmer will earn $11 million from the Cardinals this season, which is $1.13 million less than what Kolb and Skelton were scheduled to earn. Including the "dead money" from Kolb ($6 million) and Skelton ($45,413), the four quarterbacks will count $11.712 million against the Cardinals' salary cap this season, $2.46 million less than the $14.175 million in space Kolb and Skelton would have occupied if they were not released.
Including Brian Hoyer and 2012 sixth-round pick Ryan Lindley, the Cardinals are scheduled to spend $13.503 million in cash at the quarterback position, which ranks eighth in the NFL and is by far the highest amount in the NFC West. In fact, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.02 million, a league-low), San Francisco 49ers ($2.895 million, 28th in the NFL) and St. Louis Rams ($9.48 million, 18th in the NFL) will combine to spend $13.39 million in cash at the quarterback position this season. The Cardinals' cash spending at the quarterback position will likely decrease as they're unlikely to go through an entire season with four quarterbacks on the roster and would surely reduce or eliminate the $2.023 million in non-guaranteed base salary that Hoyer is scheduled to receive on a second-round restricted free agent tender.