Raiders move 'all in' with Palmer

October, 18, 2011
10/18/11
1:24
PM PT


It is an empowering moment, no matter which cards you're holding and how good the percentages of actually winning the hand are. There's just something about wrapping your hands around the sides of your chip stack, shoving them into the middle of the table in a no-limit poker game and letting everyone know this is it.

No one says "All in" softly. You say it fast and you say it strong or you don't say it at all.

I imagine that's how things feel in the Raider front office this morning as the group of people stepping in to replace the late Al Davis made a bold move to acquire Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer for what could be two first-round draft picks.

It was a move Davis would've loved. A 60-yard touchdown pass over the head of the safeties when everyone was expecting a run.

It feels great in the moment. Empowering, strong, aggressive. Like you just grabbed some control over a game rooted so deeply in chance.

It feels even better when you make that move from a position of strength. To continue the poker metaphor, with a big chip stack to intimidate the other players, or the best hole cards at the table.

The Raiders have neither.


They are operating from a desperate place. Trying to get back in the game after a crippling loss both on the field -- the injury to starting quarterback Jason Campbell -- and off of it -- the passing of Davis on October 8.

Two first round draft picks is what you pay for an elite quarterback, not a guy coming off three wretched seasons in Cincinnati who hasn't looked good or entirely healthy in years.

Heck, the Arizona Cardinals only gave up cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick for Kevin Kolb in the offseason.

All you need to know about how badly the Raiders overpaid for Palmer is that Bengals owner Mike Brown was essentially forced to swallow his stubborn pride and accept the deal. It was too good. He was getting too much.

None of this means this trade won't turn out well for the Raiders. Palmer, 31, is still a young man and was just 30 yards shy of 4,000 yards passing last season.

He has stayed in shape during his "retirement" and clearly has a good rapport with Raiders coach Hue Jackson from their days at both USC and Cincinnati. A fresh start with a familiar face might be just what Palmer needs to resuscitate his career. The Raiders surprisingly good offensive line -- which has helped Darren McFadden and Michael Bush become one of the best backfields in the NFL -- should help too.

But when you make a move as bold and aggressive as this, it shouldn't just be because it feels good to push all your chips into the middle of the table.

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