Looks like Tom Coughlin will have a staff spot to fill after all, though it wasn't his decision to create the opening. Quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, a man who largely contributed to the maturation of Eli Manning over the past three seasons, announced his retirement today.
Several reports said he's moving out of the NFL to become head coach of the UFL's Sentinels. The Sentinels, originally based in New York, are slated to move to Hartford, Ct., which is where Palmer resides. They recently fired head coach Ted Cottrell.
"Chris did an outstanding job coaching Eli," Coughlin said. "He has been Eli’s coach and confidant in the years that he’s been here. Eli and Chris had a very good working relationship. I believe Eli has established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League, and I see nothing but continued improvement in the future.
"Chris was very well thought of here. Ownership thinks highly of Chris and so do I. We wish him well going forward."
Palmer, who ends a 38-year coaching career, came to the Giants when Kevin Gilbride was elevated to offensive coordinator in the wake of John Hufnagle's firing in 2006. He brought some of the more innovative passing drills to the organization.
"I really enjoyed working with Coach Palmer," Manning said. "Over the last three years we've had some great success and I've improved as a quarterback. He's a terrific coach when it comes to technique. He's great not only on the field but also in the meeting room. I'm really sorry to see him go."
Palmer and Manning grew close as Manning's success soared, from winning the Super Bowl to this year, as he completed his first 4,000-yard passing season.
"It was very rewarding to me to work with Eli, because you had a player who grew every year," Palmer said. "We won the Super Bowl. He was a guy that you looked forward to coming to work with every day, because he was going to challenge you and he was going to look for ways to get better. We hit it off from day one."
Palmer spent two seasons as head coach of the expansion Cleveland Browns. Other than that, he made his name as an offensive coordinator and a developer of quarterbacks, listing among his success stories the Cowboys' Tony Romo, and the Texans' David Carr, with whom he would reunite with the Giants. He was also Coughlin's offensive coordinator for his two runs to the AFC Championship game in Jacksonville, where he worked with Mark Brunell. He also helped Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe to one of his most successful years.
"I think Chris was an excellent addition to our staff," Coughlin said. "I hired Chris to be my offensive coordinator in Jacksonville. Because of my knowledge of his unique abilities as a quarterback coach I wanted him here and I wanted him to be able to work with Eli. He came in and we had a historic year here in 2007 (winning Super Bowl XLII). Eli had a great playoff run and Chris was a part of that."
No word on a replacement yet. Wonder if former Seahawks quarterback and recently-fired Redskins head coach Jim Zorn would be interested. He had a pretty good relationship with his players.