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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Fitting end to Palmer era in Oakland

By Bill Williamson


The way the Carson Palmer era ended in Oakland on Tuesday summed up the entire 18-month experience -- it was disappointing and made little impact.

The Raiders hoped finally to get something good from the disastrous Palmer era, but those hopes ended with a thud. Oakland traded the quarterback and a seventh-round pick (No. 219) in this year's draft to Arizona for a sixth-round pick (No. 176), plus a conditional 2014 seventh-round pick if Palmer starts 13 games for the Cardinals this season.

Yes, the Raiders received scraps in return for Palmer.

It's no shock. There was little chance Arizona, or any other team, would give up anything valuable for Palmer because he essentially forced his way out of Oakland.

Palmer
Palmer
Palmer reportedly balked at taking $10 million this year from Oakland, down from the $13 million he was set to make. He reportedly got $10 million guaranteed from the Cardinals, and will make between $16 million and $20 million over two years. Palmer essentially decided he’d rather play in Arizona than in Oakland.

The Raiders wanted Palmer, but as a backup plan they traded for Matt Flynn, who now is in line to start.

Making this turn of events even more bitter for Oakland is the fact that the team gave up the No. 17 overall pick in last year’s draft and still owes the No. 35 pick in this year’s draft for Palmer, whom the previous regime desperately traded for in 2011.

Palmer, who forced his way out of Cincinnati by basically retiring on the team, went 8-16 as the starter in Oakland. Tuesday marked the end of one of the worst trades in NFL history.

The current regime in Oakland was hoping to get at least the 2013 season out of Palmer. Even though he didn’t help the Raiders win, he was a proven player.

It’s difficult to say whether this trade improved the Raiders' immediate future. Flynn, who turns 28 in June, is unproven. He has two NFL starts under his belt. Plus, Flynn will be paid a guaranteed $6.5 million this season. Combined with the $9.3 million in dead money from Palmer’s contract, the Raiders are committing more money at the quarterback position than they would have had they paid Palmer’s full salary. The Raiders must hope Flynn will quickly flourish.

The Raiders have been in salary cap hell for some time, and are still digging out of it. But they will be in great shape next year, with likely between $40 million and $50 million in cap room. The Raiders will need it as they continue to try to restock the roster for the future. The key is whether ownership will want to spend the signing bonuses that go along with salary cap spending.

But that is an issue for the future. This is a "now" league. That means trying to compete in 2013, and the immediate concern is how the Raiders will try to improve after the fiasco that was the Carson Palmer experience.