MIAMI — A flight from South Beach to South Bend quickly turned into a rebooked journey from Miami to the Mile High City.
Happy holidays, Nathan Palmer — it looks like your chances of a white Christmas just got signifcantly better.
Palmer, who has been on the Miami Dolphins practice squad for the last two months, was cut by the NFL franchise Monday, Dec. 23. But mere hours after he packed his gear, he got a call from his agent, and later, the Denver Broncos, who wanted the Elkhart Central graduate to be a part of their practice squad. He boarded a 7:45 a.m. flight bound for Denver on Tuesday, Dec. 24.
A “fast turnaround,” he said.
“I walked into the training facility and was about ready to lift when a messenger said I was needed upstairs and to bring my playbook with me,” said Palmer, who then expected to be cut once he reached the office of Miami general manager Jeff Ireland. He just didn’t know any specific reason.
“The GM told me the reasons, why they were making the move. They just wanted to bring somebody else in,” Palmer said. “I packed up my stuff, drove to my place in Miami and called my parents. I told them I might be coming home for Christmas.”
But before Palmer, 24, could finish booking a flight to South Bend, he got a call from Denver. The Northern Illinois University grad, who began his pro career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 before he joined the Indianapolis Colts, liked his new landing spot.
“It happened so fast. My agent thought this would be the best fit for me, would give me the biggest opportunity to showcase my talents, a place where I could learn,” said Palmer, who had a brief workout in Denver this fall prior to signing a free agent contract with the Dolphins. He was cut by the Colts after suffering a knee injury in the last preseason game in August.
Palmer will go from a team which now has an outside shot of making the playoffs to a team with the AFC’s No.1 postseason seed and Peyton Manning, who just set and NFL record with his 51st touchdown pass of the season Sunday’s 37-13 romp over Houston.
If nothing else, the change of environment will be healthy for a young player like Palmer.
“Any time you go to an organization for the remainder of the season, that’s a good thing,” he said. “They can get a better evaluation of me. I was out there for one day, really just a couple of hours. I think I ran seven routes. But now I’m going to a team and a practice squad in a playoff mode.
“To go work with my childhood hero ... I grew up watching Peyton Manning ... to be in the same lockerroom with him and guys like Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas ... I can really learn from those guys.”