For those who have been following the Raiders and the Carson Palmer situation closely, you can probably see a timeline of events unfolding right before your eyes, though the exact chain of events happened mostly behind closed doors. First, there was the injury to Jason Campbell during the game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. That was followed by (though unreported and complete speculation on my part) the phone call from somebody in the Raiders’ organization to Palmer’s agent. Then Sunday night, it was reported that Carson Palmer had respectfully asked Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown to reconsider trading him. Monday morning (again, unreported and complete speculation on my part) the Raiders sent a copy of their playbook to Palmer. Monday night, Palmer went to bed as a “retired” quarterback and woke up to a text message at 4 a.m. that said he needed to report to Oakland for contract negotiations and a physical.
The big question is: Was Carson Palmer worth the 2012 first round pick… and more?
There isn’t any question that he was. If that’s what it takes for the Raiders to continue winning at the pace of an AFC West Champion, then they must do whatever it takes. For all we know Campbell’s throwing arm may never be the same following a dislocated shoulder and a broken collarbone.
Of course Campbell wants to hurry back in his contact year, but for him to miss just six games is a pipe dream, especially considering that Hue Jackson likes to take plenty of time to make sure a player is healthy. So many quarterbacks throughout the history of the NFL have lost their jobs because of injury. Jason Campbell is certainly not immune to the same type of thing happening.
Let’s say hypothetically that this trade did not happen. Then Kyle Boller plays for six weeks and goes 4-2 as the starter. And Jason Campbell does come back after six weeks, ready to play, but Boller has looked good and has found a rhythm with the offense. Do you really want to throw another wrench in the wheels and go back to Campbell who is not in “game shape,” or do you stick with Boller to guide your 8-4 team down the stretch?
Hue Jackson is going to leave it at this: “I'm really glad to have had the opportunity to work with Jason, watch what Jason did, and how he led this team, and we're going to miss him.”
I’m just as much a Campbell advocate as anybody else is, but you cannot have a quarterback carousel. Especially with the 2010 season being all about that, with Bruce Gradkowski this week and Jason Campbell that week and so on – it just doesn’t work. Unfortunately for Campbell, fate was not on his side this time. Besides, he needs to take the time to get healthy and he should spend his offseason learning how to slide.
Understandably, Campbell was trying to get a first down on third down when he was injured, but there was nobody near him when he dove and fumbled earlier in the game. I’d prefer to see a quarterback just straight drop to one knee and kneel than succumb to a horrible sequence of dives. Taking a knee is giving yourself up too.
Getting back to the trade for Palmer, it’s clear that Hue Jackson understands that Kyle Boller is not the future, he is a stopgap. He is a guy that you put in for a half or three quarters and let him finish a game when the starter is unable to do so. He is a former first round pick, but at this level it’s clear that he is a third string quarterback. He may be a second string quarterback on his best day, but he is not a legit starter.
In addition to that, Terrell Pryor is not ready…at all. He has been able to attend team meetings, but he is hardly groomed as a college quarterback and is going to be a major project for Hue Jackson and Al Saunders. His throwing motion is horrendous, he hasn’t taken many snaps from center, and nobody on this team believes in him right now. That third factor alone would make it exceedingly difficult for him to have success.
Also, let’s add the fact that Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton, and David Gerrard were not an option for the Raiders. Favre is actually staying retired this time, I think. Plus even if he isn’t, he is over the hill and that was perfectly clear last season. McNabb is still in Minnesota and they don’t know what they are doing right now with Christian Ponder and McNabb. They still need McNabb there to groom the rookie and be a reliable back-up if Ponder is what they think he is. Kyle Orton is a Bronco and it would’ve taken more to get him than it took to get Palmer. And Gerrard is going to have back surgery to repair a herniated disk.
Therefore, Palmer was the only option. And the only way to get him was to offer Mike Brown something he couldn’t refuse. But to the Raiders, it’s just air. Two first round draft picks, that is not a player. That is not players. It is air. It doesn’t exist yet. It is insubstantial. Besides, the odds of a first round draft choice working out for a team in the modern era are really close to 50 percent. So the Bengals basically took one player, and the Raiders took one player because half of those draft choices isn’t going to work out anyway. And who knows what’s going to happen in SincinCity.
“When you go back,” Jackson said, “I think you guys know my history with Carson – obviously I recruited and coached Carson in college and was with him in Cincinnati at the Bengals so I have a long-standing history with him. And I know what we're putting on this football team.”
Palmer has been keeping in football shape, working out with former New York Jets’ quarterback Ken O’Brien and wide receiver T.J. Housemanzadeh near his home in California. He has all the abilities of a Campbell and probably more, even though he’ll be 32 in December. Campbell will turn 30 on the 31st of December. The biggest difference between Campbell and Palmer is probably the speed of the delivery. Campbell has a relatively slow delivery while Carson Palmer delivers the ball much more suddenly. The ball coming out of both hands certainly has a clear purpose, but Palmer’s stroke is faster.
Trent Dilfer appeared on the Scott Van Pelt show earlier today and said, “I think we’ll look back at this in a couple of years and say, ‘Wow, that was a really good trade.’”
Seriously, people want to talk about how Palmer hasn’t had good seasons over the past few in his career. Well let’s surround a former Heisman Trophy winner with dramatics and criminals and see what happens. In addition, let’s let him get sacked, hurried, and hit every couple of plays. The Bengals of recent memory have been the Raiders of the 2000’s. Sure they have four wins this year, but their only victory over a worthy foe was when they beat Buffalo. Cleveland, Denver, and Indy don’t count.
I say re-sign Campbell in the offseason and let him compete with Palmer next season when he is healthy and has a real shot to go out there and be competitive. Once you’ve decided whom you want to move forward with as your quarterback, you trade the other for whatever you can get for them. Then you get some draft picks back. It doesn’t matter what round they are because the draft has proven that you can hit or miss in any round, especially if you are the Oakland Raiders.
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