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Carson Palmer Trade Worth It For Raiders

Patrick Crawley |
October 18, 2011 | 4:38 p.m. PDT

Sports Editor Emeritus

Carson Palmer will look to lead Oakland back to the postseason. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Carson Palmer will look to lead Oakland back to the postseason. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
On Tuesday, the Raiders pulled off the improbable, acquiring Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer from the Bengals mere hours before the NFL trade deadline.

For the stiff price of two high draft picks, a first-rounder in 2012 and a second-rounder (which could potentially turn into a first-rounder) in 2013, the Silver & Black pried Palmer from the pit bull-like jaws of Bengals owner Mike Brown, who, when Palmer requested a trade following the 2010 season, swore he would let Palmer retire before trading him elsewhere.

Apparently, the king's ransom offered by Oakland softened Brown's stranglehold, but is that a good thing for the Raiders?

I say yes.

Here are five reasons why:

1. The Raiders stay on course to make the playoffs

This is the most important point in the argument for or against making the Palmer trade. If the playoffs began today, the Raiders would not make the cut. However, at 4-2, they're knocking on the door harder than your drunk roommate at three in the morning after losing his keys.

Had the team not traded for Palmer, the Week 6 loss of Jason Campbell for the season likely would have ended any chance of that door being opened. With Palmer, though, the Raiders remain a dynamic competitor. Their run game is the best it's been in years thanks to Darren McFadden's emergence as an elite back, and they have a core of dangerous playmakers in Denarius Moore and Derrius Heyward-Bey.

Sure, their defense leaves something to be desired -- the Raiders rank 28th and 25th in yards allowed per game and points allowed per game, respectively -- but make no mistake about it, this is a team on the rise. For proof of that, look no further than the road win they pulled off in Houston in honor of Davis. That was a tough victory, particularly on the road. It proved the Raiders' resililience. Besides, even if you don't believe in all that "Win it for the Gipper" stuff, just look at Oakland's upcoming schedule. It's easier than microwave lasagna. Yes, I'm looking at you, Chiefs, Broncos and Vikings. You may as well have written "Stouffer's" on the back of your uniforms.

At worst, the Raiders will win three out of their next five games, setting them up for a serious run at the AFC West title.

The Chargers are 4-1 so far, but they've looked shaky, beating the Chiefs and Broncos by a combined eight points. And the Chiefs and Broncos are no competition, unless you're in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes. With so much talent on offense and the division up for grabs, it would've been beyond disappointing to give up on the season so early. In that respect, I think the Raiders made the right move making a play for Palmer. It allows them to compete this season, and for the next two seasons as well.

2. Jackson proves he has a vision and is able to execute it

The passing of longtime patriarch Al Davis created a void at the top of the Raiders' organization. It seems head coach Hue Jackson is filling that void. Jackson's previous connection to Palmer -- he recruited Palmer to USC and served as wide receivers coach in Cincinnati under Marvin Lewis -- obviously facilitated the deal with the Bengals. If not for Jackson's familiarity with Palmer (and, of course, Mike Brown), it's unlikely this trade would have gone through.

Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
More than that, in the press conference that followed the trade it was clear Jackson (seen left with the Ravens) had a plan as soon as Campbell broke his collarbone and was able to execute it effectively. His comment that he never wavered in his commitment to trade for Palmer is telling. He is a man of resolve and that's exactly what the Raiders need right now.

Even if the Palmer trade doesn't work out, at least the Raiders have someone at the helm who knows what the hell he's doing. That's more than we can say for a lot of other NFL franchises. Sorry, Miami.

3. Palmer will play rejuvenated football

As a fan of the NFL and a graduate of USC, this is the most exciting development for me. Palmer is just 32 years old, and he still has a lot of good years left in that arm. It would have been a tragedy to see him go the way of Barry Sanders and retire early.

Yes, Palmer's performance declined last season. And, yes, his time away from the NFL is a concern -- you don't miss training camp and six weeks of action and come back immediately ready to go. But ultimately this a very good football player playing for a coach he is familiar with in a system that gives him ample opportunity to succeed.

That alone is enough to spark optimism. Throw in the fact that he was miserable in Cincinnati, where he had to bear the brunt of criticism for a team more suited to play alongside Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard than compete for a Super Bowl, and you have obvious potential for rejuvenation.

Michael Lombardi's critique of Palmer's performance post-2006 is valid, but think about the last job you had that made you miserable. Did you perform at your best? Probably not, right. I mean, who wants to go the extra mile when they're getting blamed for this, that and the other thing that's out of his control? Nobody I know.

I'm not saying the Raiders' organization is an exemplory one. After all, their heir apparent has a haircut that's half bowl, half mullet. Someone seriously needs to start a #FireMarkDavisbarber movement on Twitter. With that said, I think it'll be refreshing for Palmer to get out from under the thumb of Mike Brown and the scrutiny that came with playing in Cincy. Like Andy Dufresne, he has emerged from the shit-smelling foulness...to find himself surrounded by thousands of dog-collared crazies wearing Darth Vader masks.

Oh well. Rich Gannon adapted. I'm sure Palmer can too.

Whether or not he is perfectly suited for the Raiders remains to be seen. No matter what happens, though, Palmer's a free man again. I have a feeling we're going to see inspired play from him this season.

4. Palmer won't break the bank

QB Carson Palmer (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
QB Carson Palmer (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)

Part of Tuesday's trade agreement was a re-working of Palmer's contract. After restructuring, he'll make $43 million through 2014; which is, on average, $14.3 million per season. While that does put Palmer on the list of highest-paid quarterbacks alongside Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, it's a contract that looks like a bargain compared to the mistakes some other teams have made.

For instance, the Chiefs agreed in 2009 to pay Matt Cassel $63 million over six years in a deal that front-loaded $40.5 mill over the course of the first three years. And the Jets are paying, with bonuses, nearly $17.3 million for Mark Sanchez this season.

It will take Palmer a few weeks to settle in. Still, he'll easily outperform both of those guys.

Additionally, the Raiders have Palmer locked up for the next three years, so this is a far cry from moves in other leagues (say, the San Francisco Giants' deal for Carlos Beltran) where players are traded for, then disappear into the free agency ether a few months later.

At worst, Campbell will come back healthy next season and the Raiders can move Palmer to a team in need at a later date. Ask the Cardinals proved earlier this year with the Kevin Kolb trade, there is always a market for talented quarterbacks.

5. We're spared the indignity of the Kyle Boller Era

Two words. Thank God.


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