NFC West: Palmer to Raiders

Should Seahawks have made Palmer play?

October, 18, 2011
The Cincinnati Bengals said they would not trade quarterback Carson Palmer, but just about anything can happen if the price is right.

For the Bengals, the price was apparently a 2012 first-round draft choice, plus a first- or second-rounder the following year, depending on whether the Raiders win a playoff game.

The price made sense from the Raiders' perspective after Jason Campbell's season-ending injury threatened to derail their season following a 4-2 start.

As for the Seattle Seahawks? They arguably could have used a proven veteran passer as well, but they were wise to hold onto future first-round picks, in my view.

"It makes more sense for the Raiders than for Seattle," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said. "Seattle is not winning the Super Bowl with or without him this year. Seattle needs to add Matt Barkely or another young puppy with the first-round pick. Palmer is not that guy who they fill in and they are set."

The Seahawks have put together one of the youngest rosters in the league. They have bucked conventional wisdom by drafting no quarterbacks since Pete Carroll took over the team in early 2010. Clearly, the Seahawks need to draft a bright quarterback prospect at some point, the sooner the better.

With the San Francisco 49ers starting 5-1, the 2-3 Seahawks will have a harder time replicating their improbable 2010 run to a division title. Wedging Palmer into an offense that values quarterback mobility would have proved disruptive in the short term while mortgaging the team's chances for drafting a quarterback in the future.

Winning the division at 7-9 and surprising New Orleans in the playoffs last season created enduring memories, but the result was picking 25th overall instead of eighth, complicating efforts to draft a quarterback. The Seahawks appear better positioned to land an earlier pick this season because the 49ers appear likely to raise the NFC West bar from 7-9 for any team hoping to qualify for the playoffs.

Carroll's history with Palmer would have carried some appeal, however. The two were together at USC. Both are West Coast guys. They would have worked well together. But their days together at USC were a long time ago.

"When I was with the Browns, the first game I was ever part of in the NFL was against the Bengals," Williamson said. "I remember standing on the field watching him warm up and my jaw hit the ground. He was throwing 60-yard strikes casually while talking to the quarterbacks coach. That is what first pick should look like. Haven’t really seen it since."

Palmer could have made more sense for Seattle at a lower price. The team would prefer to see what it has in Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst and even third-stringer Josh Portis than to part with first-round picks for a player whose best years might be in the past.

"The real encouraging thing on Palmer is that he played one or two games last year where Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens were both out, and he looked like a different guy throwing to Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Jermaine Gresham," Williamson said. "There was a knucklehead factor with Ochocinco and T.O. running wrong routes all the time. But I still think it's a huge risk for somebody who is injury prone, rusty, immobile and hasn't been productive for a while."

Palmer's price makes Kolb deal appealing

October, 18, 2011
Carson Palmer is heading to Oakland for a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 choice in the first or second round, depending on whether the Raiders win a playoff game.

I can see why the Raiders acted boldly after Jason Campbell's season-ending injury threatened to ruin their 4-2 start. Palmer is probably at least as good as Campbell at this point. Best-case scenario, he's the Raiders' next Jim Plunkett -- an older, immobile quarterback with a big arm and the savvy to win. But he also might be a declining player unlikely to put the Raiders or any team over the top.

Given how much the Raiders are giving up for a 31-year-old passer with a questionable future, the price Arizona paid for Kevin Kolb, 27, appears more agreeable.

"I think the Raiders vastly overspent," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said when I spoke with him Tuesday. "Palmer hasn't been good for three years. A change of scenery could help, but a first-round pick for him? I wouldn't give up a second or maybe even a third."

The Cardinals gave up a 2012 second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Kolb, who then signed a five-year contract worth $63 million. The price Arizona paid on the contract far outweighs what the team gave to Philadelphia in completing the deal, in my view. As Williamson has said more than once, Rodgers-Cromartie played poorly last season, did not fit the team's new defensive scheme and hasn't done much for the Eagles, either.

"This deal for Palmer makes the Kolb deal look better," Williamson said. "Quarterbacks are just expensive. You are not going to get a starting-caliber QB for a fifth-round pick. They are pricey and if you are going to start them, a second-round pick is not bad. Aaron Rodgers was not available. What else were they going to do, play with the same quarterbacks from last season again?"