AFC West: Seattle Seahawks

Chiefs vs. Seahawks preview

November, 13, 2014
When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City TV: FOX

The Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks are two of the NFL's hottest teams. The 6-3 Chiefs have won four straight games, the 6-3 Seahawks three in a row.

Something has to give.

ESPN Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Seahawks reporter Terry Blount preview the game.

Teicher: Terry, the Seahawks rushed for 350 yards in last week’s game against the New York Giants. That has the attention of the Chiefs, who haven’t been very strong against the run this year. How were the Seahawks able to rush for so many yards and gain 7.8 yards per carry against the Giants, and do you think Seattle will run it against Kansas City until the Chiefs stop them?

Blount: It was something to see, that’s for sure. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an NFL team just impose its will on a defense by running right by it and right over it. Having center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung back from injuries certainly helped, but the key to it all was the dual threat of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. The read-option just had the Giants flummoxed all day and Wilson outguessed them every time. If they keyed on Lynch, he kept it around the end. If they held their spot, Wilson gave it to Lynch and he bulldozed through the line. And the Giants looked like they never had seen the Wilson run off a naked bootleg. I don’t see Kansas City making those mistakes, but no question, the Seahawks will run the ball until the Chiefs prove they can stop them. Considering how bad the Seattle passing game has been lately, they don’t have much choice.

Adam, the Chiefs are second in the league in points allowed, only 151 in nine games, and held the Bills to 13 points on the road last weekend. What’s been the biggest factor in their success on defense?

Teicher: They’ve cut down greatly on the number of big pass plays they’ve allowed. Last year was feast or famine for the Chiefs with regard to pass defense. It seemed like every opponent pass attempt either went for a sack, a turnover or a long gain. The Chiefs are still getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback but aren’t blitzing as frequently. They’re devoting more manpower to coverage and it’s paying off. The Chiefs have allowed 22 pass plays of 20 or more yards. That’s fewer than all but two other teams.

Some of Wilson’s key passing numbers are down from the past two seasons, most notably his passer rating. What explains the fact the Seahawks haven’t been as efficient with their passing game this season?

Blount: Part of it has been injuries up front on the offensive line. In the second half of the Oakland game two weeks ago, three guys on the O-line were backups and one was a rookie. Wilson has been under duress more than any other NFL quarterback. He really misses starting tight end Zach Miller (out after ankle surgery), and the passing game is in transition since the Percy Harvin trade. Wilson, however, has been off target a lot in the past two games, consistently missing throws he normally makes. He has a sore left shoulder that no one talks about. Even though it’s not his throwing shoulder, it could be affecting is accuracy. If I'm the Chiefs, I would load the box, have one player spy Wilson for runs and force him to beat them throwing.

Alex Smith led the team to the playoffs last year in his first season at Kansas City and is in position to do it again this year, but it seems some people still wonder if he can get them to a championship. What’s the prevailing thought there about what he’s done and what he can accomplish?

Teicher: The Chiefs have in a sense given the keys to the franchise to Smith. They’re all-in on him. They signed him to a long-term contract extension over the summer, and though the Chiefs can get out of the deal after a couple of seasons, that’s not the intent. The Chiefs believe they can win a championship with Smith as their quarterback, but they also understand they need to play to his strengths and build the right team around him. The margin for error isn’t great because Smith isn’t the kind of quarterback who can put his team on his back and carry it. He’ll need plenty of help

The Seahawks are two games behind Arizona for first place in the NFL West. They can still overtake the Cardinals and win the division, particularly because they have two games remaining against them. But if Seattle doesn’t win the division but instead makes the postseason as a wild-card entrant and has to play on the road in the playoffs, do you like the Seahawks’ chances of getting back to the Super Bowl?

Blount: They have a tough path, Adam, starting with Sunday’s game. The Seahawks play Arizona twice and San Francisco twice and travel to Philadelphia after playing the Chiefs. But they control their own destiny with all those division games. They also won’t have to face starting quarterbacks Carson Palmer for the Cardinals or Nick Foles for the Eagles. As of now, I see the Seahawks going 10-6 and making the playoffs as a wild card. But I don’t think they can win three road games in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. A win Sunday would be a big step toward staying in the hunt to catch the Cardinals.

Adam, most experts still think either New England or Denver will be in the Super Bowl for the AFC, but the Chiefs are hanging in there. Do you think they have a realistic shot of winning the AFC West over the Broncos, and what do they need to improve the most to get there?

Teicher: I won’t write off the Chiefs as AFC West contenders. They’ve come back from the seemingly dead this season and are just a game behind Denver and still get to play the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. But they also have games against the Seahawks, Cardinals, Steelers and Chargers remaining. With that ahead of them, a wild-card spot is a more realistic goal. One area where the Chiefs can improve is their passing offense. They don’t get many big plays. Their longest pass play of the season is 34 yards, the lowest in the league. They’ve been very efficient offensively. They run the ball, commit few turnovers and are excellent on third down. If they can add some big plays to that mix, they’ll be difficult to beat.

SAN DIEGO – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he looks forward to playing at Qualcomm Stadium because it brings back memories of his father, Harrison Wilson III, who tried out for the San Diego Chargers as a receiver during the 1980 season.

Harrison Wilson III was one of the final cuts that year, as San Diego chose to keep four receivers because of the versatility of a talented tight end named Kellen Winslow.

Harrison Wilson III graduated from Dartmouth, where he played football and basketball. He later attended law school at the University of Virginia. But after receiving his law degree, Wilson was invited to training camp with the Chargers in 1980.

There, he and Winslow were roommates. Winslow said the fleet-footed Wilson probably would have made the team as the fifth receiver, but the Chargers decided to keep four tight ends instead because of Winslow’s ability to line up on the perimeter.

Winslow said they called Harrison Wilson III “The Professor” because of the large-framed glasses he used to wear on the field.

“That’s his dad,” Winslow said, when asked Russell Wilson’s on-field personality. “He’s smart, organized and very athletic.”

Wilson’s father died in 2010 the age of 55 after a long battle with diabetes.

Russell Wilson said he remembers his father singing “San Diego Super Chargers” -- the team’s unofficial fight song -- and that the first football he threw a spiral with was a Chargers’ football.

Wilson even sang the first verse of “San Diego Super Chargers” during a conference call with San Diego-area reporters on Wednesday.

Wilson played for about a quarter during a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium last year. But Sunday’s game against the Chargers will be his first chance to play there during a regular-season game.

“To back there and play the Chargers will be a very special moment,” Wilson said. “But I always believe he’s there with me though, no matter what stadium we’re playing in, home or away. I believe my dad has the best seat in the house.”

As for the matchup, Wilson said that the long layoff between his team’s season-opening victory against Green Bay on Thursday night and Sunday’s contest should not affect Seattle’s ability to execute against the Chargers.

“I definitely believe it gives us a lot of energy,” Wilson said. “It gives us our legs back. Coach [Pete] Carroll does a tremendous job of giving us a good break, but also keeping football in our mind and allowing us to do some practice, getting back in our groove and focusing on the fundamentals of the game.”
Join us today at 2 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. PT as ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s third Spreecast airs live. Host Paul Gutierrez (Oakland Raiders reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and guest Terry Blount (Seattle Seahawks reporter) take on topics.

Among topics we'll discuss: Herschel Walker saying he could still play in the NFL, a 49ers fan suing the NFL for $50 million over Seattle’s ticket situation in the NFC title game, Megatron potentially finding a loophole in the NFL’s anti-celebration dunk rule and the Seahawks Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson in the news for vastly different reasons. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature.
The Oakland Raiders got down to the 75-man roster limit Tuesday, but not without some pain.

The Raiders put rookie running back Latavius Murray on the injured reserve list. The team had said he had a minor ankle injury. Earlier in the offseason, it appeared as if Murray would have a chance to be Darren McFadden’s primary backup with a chance to be a major contributor. The sixth-round draft pick from Central Florida is big, fast and skilled.

Yet, he will have to wait a year to try to make an impact. Rashad Jennings will remain McFadden’s backup.

Oakland also placed reserve cornerback Joselio Hanson on injured reserve. He was decent in backup role last year.

Linebacker Miles Burris was placed on the physically unable to perform list. He has been out all offseason. Burris, a rookie starter last year, has fallen out of the starting mix, at least for now. But he will miss at least the first six games of the season.

Oakland signed kicker Justin Medlock just so it can give Sebastian Janikowski a rest Thursday at Seattle. Cornerback Mitchell White was cut.

Seattle cut cornerback Will Blackmon. He was in Green Bay with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie and Oakland safety Charles Woodson. The Raiders could always use veteran experience, especially with Hanson out. I wouldn’t be shocked if Oakland considers Blackmon.

Starting receiver Rod Streater is practicing Tuesday. He suffered a concussion Friday against Chicago.

This is Terrelle Pryor's chance.

Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen announced Sunday that presumed starting quarterback Matt Flynn has arm soreness and that Pryor will work with the first-team offense and he will start Thursday night against Seattle. At first glance, it’s not overly significant Pryor is starting the preseason finale because it's usually a chance for backups to play more.

However, after Flynn -- who is dealing with the same tendonitis issue that bothered him last summer in Seattle -- struggled Friday in a home loss to Chicago and Pryor gave the team a spark, this news is a big deal.

Saturday, I wrote the rebuilding Raiders need to give Pryor a chance to show whether he can handle the starting job. Now that he is working with the first team, Allen is giving Pryor the chance to show he can keep the job.

Regardless of what Pryor does in the Seattle game, if he practices well, I can see him getting the chance to open the regular season as the starter. It's clear that's the direction the Raiders are pointing to, and this minor arm injury of Flynn’s may be simply opening the door for Pryor.
NFL players, especially starting players, rarely look forward to preseason action.

However, that’s not how King Dunlap feels. The Chargers’ starting left tackle -- he is holding off Max Starks for the job -- wants to get on the field and see how he and his fellow starters do in what is a transitional year for the Chargers’ offensive line. Only center Nick Hardwick is a returning starter at his normal position.

The Chargers play Seattle on Thursday night at home. The Seahawks have a strong pass-rushing unit and a top-line defense. Dunlap is looking forward to facing them.

“I really want to see how we do against a good defense and a good pass-rushing team,” Dunlap said. “That will be a big test. We can then come back to practice and work on the things we did well and didn’t do well on. It’s important to face a good defense early to see where you are at.”

There is no question San Diego’s offensive line is one of the team’s biggest question marks. However, I get the sense that the team is confident the unit will be improved in 2013. We will get the first chance to judge, along with Dunlap, after the Seattle game.
Apparently, Jaws is not a big believer in the Raiders’ decision to trade for Matt Flynn. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has Flynn ranked No. 32 of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Flynn was slightly more highly regarded a year ago. Last June, Jaworski ranked Flynn No. 27.

He went from Green Bay to Seattle to be a starter. But he lost the job to rookie Russell Wilson in the preseason.

This spring, Oakland traded for Flynn after Carson Palmer balked at a pay cut. Palmer was traded to Arizona after the Raiders picked up Flynn.

Flynn is 28 and he has started just two NFL games. His arm strength has been questioned. I don’t expect Flynn to light the NFL on fire. I do think the Raiders can get by with him for the short term and since he wasn’t overly expensive, it’s not a terribly risky venture.

If Jaworski is right and Flynn plays like the No. 32 starting quarterback in the NFL, then we may soon see rookie Tyler Wilson or Terrelle Pryor get a chance to breathe life into Oakland’s offense.

In other AFC West notes:

San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o talked about what he is learning at the NFL Rookie Symposium in this video.

The Raiders waived linebacker Mario Kurn. He was on injured reserve all of last year.
FlynnKirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsAfter losing his job to Russell Wilson, Matt Flynn could be challenged by another Wilson in Oakland.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Dennis Allen knows there is much intrigue about his quarterback situation.

Still, the Oakland Raiders coach is not in a hurry to see it play out.

“We haven’t really even had a full practice,” Allen said. “We have three-plus months 'til the season starts. All the guys have a lot to work to do. But we have time. I don’t have to make any decisions until we have a game; that’s a ways off. ... Overall, I like where we are as a group and I really have no worries about the quarterback position.”

Still, it will be a topic throughout the summer. It already has been an oft-written-about topic in the Bay Area.

Ever since the Raiders took Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson in the fourth round of the April draft, there has been chatter that presumed starter Matt Flynn is in danger of losing his job to a rookie named Wilson for the second straight year. Flynn, who turns 28 on June 20 but has started just two NFL games, was set to be the starter in Seattle last year. But he was beaten out by Russell Wilson, who turned out to be a dynamic rookie.

Oakland pursued Flynn in a deal with Seattle earlier in the offseason when Carson Palmer balked at a contract reduction (Palmer was traded to Arizona after Flynn was acquired). Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie was in Green Bay with Flynn and liked his moxie and football intelligence.

The Raiders wanted to keep Palmer, but when that broke down, Flynn was the best option for a team in the beginning of a rebuilding stage. Oakland was fine with the idea of moving forward with Flynn because it didn’t give a lot to Seattle for him and he is reasonably priced at $6.5 million.

Yet the tone of the situation changed when Tyler Wilson came into the picture and reports were that he was performing well early in OTA sessions. Allen and McKenzie have been playing it close to the vest, saying there will be competition and making comments that Flynn is the “presumed starter.”

[+] EnlargeOakland's Tyler Wilson
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsRookie quarterback Tyler Wilson out of Arkansas has impressed the Raiders early on.
I get the sense the team expects Flynn to win the job in part because Wilson and Terrelle Pryor are green and not ready.

Everything is up for discussion, though. If Flynn is awful in the preseason and Wilson or Pryor is fantastic, a Seattle-like situation could happen. But it is unexpected.

The most likely situation is Flynn will be the Day 1 starter in an offense that will be centered around the run and short, precise passes. If the OTA sessions are any indication, the 2013 Raiders will not offer heavy reminders of the Al Davis vertical passing days.

If Flynn falters and the team falls out of the race, I could see Wilson getting a chance to play late in the season. I do sense that Wilson is much further along in the Raiders’ eyes than Pryor. The Raiders love Pryor’s work ethic, but they haven’t seen much improvement from the player who showed some promise while starting the season finale at San Diego in December. Pryor is still battling inconsistencies, and his throws often flutter.

Allen said this about Pryor this week: “He’s not there yet.”

The selection of Wilson put as much pressure on Pryor as it did on Flynn. Pryor was a 2011 third-round supplemental pick of Davis, who died later that year. The fact that the new regime took Wilson so early in Pryor’s career means they are looking for a better young quarterback.

While Wilson has been getting rave media reviews, Allen is cautious. He likes what he sees. But he knows Wilson is a rookie and he needs to get better. I think once Wilson improves on reading coverages and making faster in-play decisions, he will further gain the trust of the coaching staff. Those are typical, manageable steps for a rookie.

Wilson is known for having a strong arm and being tough. He’s the type of player coaching staffs fall in love with if he can refine his overall game. I spoke to Wilson this week, and it was quickly evident he belongs in an NFL uniform. He has the intangibles necessary to be successful.

“I feel like I’m in a great situation,” Wilson said. “I’m getting a lot of reps; that’s what’s important. I’m getting on the field. I’m part of it. It’s just about working every day to get better.”

That’s what Allen is hoping to see from his entire group. That includes fourth-stringer Matt McGloin. He was signed this spring as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen recently said on "NFL32" that McGloin has impressed the coaching staff and could move up the depth chart. McGloin hasn’t gotten much work in the OTAs that have been open to the media. Allen said he likes how McGloin has fit in. But, at this point, it appears a lot would have to go wrong in front of him for McGloin to get a chance to skyrocket up the depth chart.

For now, the focus is on Flynn. What the Raiders like most about Flynn is he has good natural-leadership abilities and a chip on his shoulder. He knows he has to prove himself. Receivers Rod Streater and Denarius Moore, the two top starting candidates, both praised Flynn’s ability to quickly get in sync with the group of receivers

“I just play the best I can and I want to lead this team,” Flynn said.

Added Allen: “Matt Flynn hasn’t showed me anything that I’m worried about. He’s doing fine.”

So while the Oakland quarterback situation will be often talked about leading up to the season opener, Flynn remains on target to be the starter. But like most positions in Oakland this year, it will have to be earned.

Chiefs add to front office

May, 16, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs announced several additions to their front office. The moves were expected as part of the new regime.

The team added former Seattle executive Will Lewis as director of pro scouting. He has a history with Kansas City general manager John Dorsey. The team also added Marvin Allen as the team’s director of college scouting, Randy Ball as the team’s pro scouting assistant and Trey Koziol to serve as an area scout.

“We’ve got a great bunch of guys on our personnel staff that bring a wide range of experience to the table,” Dorsey said in a statement released by the team. “They’re all hard workers that are thoughtful, dedicated and detailed. We’re happy we were able to add, as well as retain, some very talented individuals.”

In other AFC West notes:
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at a key player from each AFC West team who needs to show something in offseason sessions:

Denver Broncos: Rahim Moore, safety: Moore will be closely watched to see if he can bury the memory of his colossal gaffe against Baltimore in double overtime in the 2013 AFC playoffs. Moore inexplicably allowed Baltimore receiver Jacoby Jones get behind him as the Ravens tied the game on a 70-yard desperation bomb in the final seconds of regulation. The Broncos thought Moore, a second-round pick in 2011, made great strides in his second season. They still believe in him. The team has been supportive of him this offseason, and Moore is saying all the right things. Still, he has to show his teammates and coaches in practices that the mistake is truly behind him.

Kansas City Chiefs: Jon Baldwin, receiver: Baldwin simply needs to get better. He was a first-round pick in 2011. Baldwin is superbly athletic and he has big-play ability. Yet he has made little impact in the regular season. He was terrific in training camp last season. This year, he needs to show new coach Andy Reid that he can perform in his system and that he is ready to become a consistent player. If Baldwin can make an impact, it will give a huge boost to the Chiefs’ offense.

Oakland Raiders: Matt Flynn, quarterback: Flynn has a chance to make the Raiders his team. Flynn has started two games in the NFL, and he will be 28 next month. He was expected to be the starter in Seattle last year, but he lost the starting job to Russell Wilson in training camp. The Raiders have Terrelle Pryor and drafted Tyler Wilson in the fourth round. Flynn will be given every opportunity to keep the starting job, but he must gain the trust of his coaching staff and teammates. That means Flynn must practice well and take command of the offense as soon as possible.

San Diego Chiefs: Ryan Mathews, running back: Mathews is the starting tailback. But he has to gain the trust of the new coaching staff and the belief of his teammates, who have seen him deal with injuries since he was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2010 draft. Mathews is a talented player and he has had success, but injuries have slowed him. He needs to show this offseason that he is strong, confident and ready to stay healthy. If Mathews has another season filled with injuries, the Chargers will probably look for a new lead back next year.
The Atlanta Falcons have not ruled out bringing back pass-rusher John Abraham, who was cut by the team last month. Denver showed some interest in him, but they did not pull the trigger. Denver may wait for the draft to take a pass-rusher to replace the departed Elvis Dumervil.

Oakland running back Darren McFadden is looking forward to playing in a new offensive scheme this season.

New Kansas City coach Andy Reid can’t wait to start working with explosive receiver Dexter McCluster.

USA Today is reporting the Seattle Seahawks will work out free-agent quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn. Leinart was the backup in Oakland last season and Quinn ended up being the starter in Kansas City. Neither team has plans of brining back the players.
Here are some highlights from our AFC West chat, which was held earlier Thursday.


Luke from Denver: If the Broncos do select a running back early, who will be the odd man out? Moreno or McGahee?

BW: I'm not sure if either one would have to go right away. But with that being said, this may be the final season in Denver for both players.

Kansas City

Jake from Lawrence: Why are the Chiefs looking so hard at Dion Jordan potentially being the number 1 overall pick?

BW: I think they are looking at a lot of guys and he has big talent. I know, they already have Hali and Houston. But if they think he can be a three-down guy, why not? But because he weighs just 250, Jordan may be a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker and the Chiefs are in pretty good shape there. So, is an interesting fit.


PT from Franklin, NC: Do you think Pryor will get a legit chance to start or does Flynn's contract make him the default starter in Oakland?

BW: Did you see Flynn's deal? $6.5 million. You don't pay a backup $6.5. Only way Pryor starts this year if Flynn is a bust in the preseason. Perhaps he will be beaten out for the second straight camp (it was Russell Wilson last year), but I think Oakland expects Flynn to keep the job.

San Diego

Karl from AZ: If Fredrickson from WI is there in the 3rd round do you think SD would grab him as an eventual successor to Hardwick?

BW: They also like the kid they drafted out of Michigan last year. That's the thing about the Chargers' O-line. They need help but in Molk, Harris and Troutman, there are some potential starters in the next year or so.
Judging from the context of Dennis Allen’s conference call with media members, it appears new quarterback Matt Flynn will, as expected, likely get first crack at the starting quarterback job rather than Terrelle Pryor.

Allen said nothing changes and there will be competition. Well, that was the plan had Carson Palmer stayed, as the Raiders hoped. Allen said earlier this offseason that Palmer would head into camp as the starter. He had talked about specific packages for Pryor. On Monday, Allen continued to say that was the plan for Pryor.

“I don’t think it’s going to change a whole lot. Obviously, we feel confident about Matt Flynn as a quarterback and giving him the opportunity to potentially win the starting job,” Allen said. “I think we still feel positive about giving Terrelle Pryor an opportunity to compete and specifically having a package of things that he can do really well and giving him an opportunity. So I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that’s changed as far as the mindset of what we feel like we can do offensively.”

Allen also talked about Flynn -- who has started two games in five NFL seasons -- in the same category as Matt Schaub and Aaron Rodgers as players who had to wait before getting their turn. It is clear the Raiders are expecting Flynn to be the starter. Sure, Pryor can always beat him out (Flynn lost his job in Seattle last summer to Russell Wilson), but it seems the Raiders still think Pryor has to prove he can handle the job before getting it.

Meanwhile, Tracy Porter may decide where he is going to play in the next couple of days. He has visited Oakland and New Orleans. There is little chance Porter will return to Denver. The Raiders are also interested in Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins.

The Cardinals cut quarterback John Skelton. It is another sign that the Palmer trade will go through with Arizona.

Along with NFC West blogger Mike Sando, I discuss what the Oakland Raiders' trade for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Flynn means for Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and the outgoing Carson Palmer.
Flynn/PryorGetty ImagesGet to know these faces, as they are the Raiders' quarterbacks: Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor.

The Oakland Raiders’ reconstruction of their roster has hit the most important position on the field: quarterback.

The Raiders acquired Matt Flynn from Seattle for two draft picks Monday.

Like many of the changes this year, the move was fueled by finances, and it is difficult to argue whether Oakland has improved at the position. The Raiders are going to give Flynn, a quarterback who has spent five NFL seasons as a backup and started just two games, a chance to play.

Flynn -- who was in Green Bay for four years with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie -- was Oakland’s backup plan to restructuring Carson Palmer’s contract. However, Palmer, 33, was reluctant to chop down his contract, so Oakland was forced to go elsewhere. He is reportedly in the process of being traded to Arizona for a low draft pick.

Yes, the deal does give Oakland some financial relief, although Palmer does count for more than $9 million in dead money on this year’s salary cap. But the move to acquire Flynn also cost the team some draft compensation, as Oakland will give Seattle a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 and a conditional pick in 2015. The Raiders have had a dearth of draft picks, and they didn’t want to lose any more choices. This is a franchise totally rebuilding, and it needs every pick it can get.

This move is a bitter one because Oakland gave up a first-round pick last year for Palmer, and it already owes the No. 35 overall pick in this month’s draft for him. These are all moves stemming from a desperation 2011 trade made by the previous Raiders regime.

The reality is the Raiders are now handing their quarterback position to a 27-year old player who is totally unproven. He will be learning on the job, and it also means the Raiders don’t believe in third-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor yet.

Oakland is very much in the rebuilding process. If Flynn -- who didn’t get any interest elsewhere -- doesn’t pan out, Oakland will be starting all over again next year.

This trade is defining for four quarterbacks, including top prospect Geno Smith. Let’s look at how:


Let’s make this clear: Flynn isn’t a huge get. He is a backup plan. But who knows, now that he's finally getting a chance to play, he could be good.

I’ve heard people compare him to Rich Gannon, who of course became a star for the Raiders.

Flynn has skills. But what we know is that he will be a first-time starter at age 28 (his birthday is in June) by the time the season begins.

He's in Oakland only because Palmer didn’t want to be. But this is his chance. I know Flynn was terribly disappointed to see Russell Wilson come in and beat him out last year. He thought Seattle was his chance to start after sitting behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay for so long. But once again, Flynn sat behind a better player.

The Seattle experience made Flynn a forgotten man around the league this year. No one else made a play for him once free agency began. Former Green Bay executive John Dorsey is now the general manager in Kansas City, and even the Chiefs ignored Flynn. Kansas City targeted Alex Smith all the way. Also, many in the league thought it was telling last year when Flynn’s offensive coordinator in Green Bay, Joe Philbin, never made a huge play for Flynn even though the Dolphins needed a quarterback.

To his credit, Flynn put up good numbers in a limited role with the Packers. Perhaps he will flourish in Oakland. ESPN's Matt Williamson thinks Flynn is a worthwhile endeavor for Oakland, but with limitations.

“I certainly understand the move,” Williamson said. “McKenzie & Co. are obviously very familiar with Flynn from their time together in Green Bay, but I hope they don’t think of him as the answer at quarterback.”


This trade is not a good sign for Pryor. This is a team that is in total rebuild mode. If the Raiders felt it was necessary to trade for an unproven quarterback instead of giving the ball to the third-year player who was already on the roster, it means the Raiders don’t think Pryor is ready for the job in any way.

That is a bit scary. When the Raiders thought Palmer would be in Oakland, McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen said Palmer was the starter, but Pryor would compete for the job.

I’m sure they'll say the same thing with Flynn in place. But this trade means the Raiders don’t believe in Pryor yet. He started the season finale last year, and though he was green, he showed some promise.

But the 2011 supplemental pick is still very much a work in progress. With Flynn coming in, the Raiders’ coaching staff will spend its time getting Flynn up to speed and Pryor will take a back seat.

If I were running the show in Oakland, I’d give the ball to Pryor and let him play. If he played well, the Raiders should have their answer at quarterback for the long term. If he played poorly, Oakland would know where it stands with Pryor in a season that likely didn’t have much promise anyway. Then Oakland could perhaps be in position to take a quarterback from what is expected to be a strong NFL draft crop next year.

Instead, the Raiders are rolling the dice on the veteran Flynn.


Let’s face it; Palmer doesn’t look very good as he leaves Oakland.

He reportedly refused to take his contract from $13 million down to $10 million because he didn’t believe in the Raiders’ chances. Oakland wanted him, but he didn’t want Oakland. Now it is being reported Palmer is slated to make $8 million from the Cardinals.

So he is OK with making less money with another team whose playoff hopes are small?

This is the second time Palmer has deserted a team. He basically retired from the Bengals in 2011. The only reason the Bengals relented and traded Palmer is because the Raiders offered so much for him in a desperation move when Jason Campbell was hurt.

At the time, Oakland head coach Hue Jackson, who triggered the trade and who is now an assistant in Cincinnati, called it the best trade in NFL history.

He might have been right. The Bengals got a steal.

This is an all-time bad trade by Oakland, and it has to go down as one of the worst in league history. For Oakland to be forced to get rid of Palmer weeks before the Bengals get to use a second-round pick for him is crippling.

Palmer put up some nice numbers in Oakland, but he never helped the team become a winner. He was 8-16 as the Raiders’ starter. Consider this: All-time draft bust JaMarcus Russell was 7-18 as the Raiders’ starter.

In the end, the Palmer experience was almost as disastrous as the Russell era.


One thing I like about this turn of events is that Oakland very likely will not be taking Smith, the quarterback prospect out of West Virginia, with the No. 3 pick in this month's draft. With so many other needs, the Raiders can’t afford to bring both Flynn and Smith onto the roster this season.

The Raiders have major needs on defense. That is where the pick should be spent, not on Smith, who is no sure thing.

There is a negative to this reality, though. The Raiders would like to trade down to get more picks. With the threat of Smith no longer being there, it could be more difficult trading the pick.

In the end, getting Flynn is a move Oakland didn’t want to make that has major repercussions. The team can only hope it works out.



Sunday, 1/25