NFL Nation: Palmer to Raiders

Tough break for Jason Campbell

October, 18, 2011
10/18/11
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Jason Campbell left the Oakland Raiders’ facility to get his collarbone surgically repaired with hopes of playing again this year.

Campbell
Campbell told Oakland media that he was hopeful he could return from the injury he suffered Sunday against Cleveland in six weeks. The more realistic prognosis was that Campbell was finished for the season.

Now, as Campbell begins the healing process from his surgery, the most likely scenario is that he has played his final game as a Raider.

Now that the Raiders gave up a first-round pick in 2012 and at least a second-round pick in 2013 to get Carson Palmer from Cincinnati, it is safe to say the Raiders are discarding Campbell. The only way Campbell will come back is if Palmer is a complete disaster this year.

It is stunning how this situation changed. Campbell entered Sunday’s game as an improved player whom the Raiders completely believed in. The expectation was that the Raiders would eventually look to extend the contract of Campbell, who is a free agent at the end of the year.

You often hear about the brutality of this business. But I can’t think of a more brutal recent situation than this. Campbell worked hard in Oakland and he improved. He was a model teammate and was terrific with the media.

It’s tough to see good guys deal with these types of situations, but the Raiders are trying to win now and Oakland coach Hue Jackson did what he felt was necessary in light of Campbell’s injury.

Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis hinted Tuesday that Jackson had shown interest in reuniting with Palmer for a while. But there is no way this trade would have been made had Campbell not been hurt. Campbell was the Raiders' quarterback until he was hurt.

And now he’s not.

Will Carson Palmer play Sunday?

October, 18, 2011
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The immediate question is: When will the Carson Palmer era begin in Oakland?

The Raiders traded for Palmer on Tuesday to help keep them in the playoff hunt. I wouldn’t be shocked if Palmer is playing Sunday at home against Kansas City.

I know Palmer hasn’t played in 10 months. I know he doesn’t know his new teammates, and I know it would be highly unusual for an NFL team to give its offense to a new quarterback in this situation.

But the Raiders gave up two high draft picks for Palmer because they think he is the man to help them win right away. They could have stuck with Kyle Boller this week while figuring out what they wanted to do for the rest of the season, but they made this bold move instead.

So why wait? Get Palmer on the field as soon a possible.

Palmer played for Oakland coach Hue Jackson at USC and in Cincinnati. So, he is not unfamiliar with this system. The Raiders rely on the run anyway, so Palmer could be eased into action this week.

There is also recent precedent to the Raiders rushing newly acquired players onto the field. Last week, linebacker Aaron Curry started for the Raiders after having one practice with the team.

Why wouldn’t they do that with Palmer? Jackson is as aggressive as they come. Why would he change now?

Is Carson Palmer worth the price?

October, 18, 2011
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There’s no doubt Carson Palmer was the best available quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive in the aftermath of losing Jason Campbell, possibly for the season, to a broken collarbone.

But the question that will define the Raiders for the next few years is: Is Palmer worth the steep price the Raiders paid Cincinnati to get him?

[+] EnlargeCarson Palmer
Matthew Stockman/Getty ImagesCarson Palmer's numbers have declined since 2006 -- will a change of scenery reverse the trend?
The Raiders sent the Bengals their first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional pick in 2013 -- a pick that will be a first-rounder if the Raiders win the AFC title game this season or next. (If they don't, the 2013 pick is a second-rounder.) That is a huge commitment for a player who will turn 32 this year, hasn’t played since last season and has been in decline.

Yet the Raiders, who had Vince Young as their backup plan to Palmer, think Palmer is the best quarterback for them as they move forward. A lot of it has to do with the familiarity between Palmer and Oakland coach Hue Jackson. Jackson coached Palmer both at USC and in Cincinnati.

Palmer has a big arm, and he’s accurate. He should benefit from the Raiders’ athletic group of young receivers. Plus, Oakland has the NFL’s best rushing team.

But can he still be productive?

Palmer, who has completed 62.9 percent of his career passes, struggled in 2010. He threw 20 interceptions. His 23 turnovers were the fourth most among all NFL quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His last statistically strong season was in 2007, the season before he missed 12 games with a serious elbow injury. Jackson last coached Palmer in 2006.

Palmer’s completion percentage, yards per attempt, yards per game and touchdown-to-interception ratio have slipped in the past three years, according to ESPN Stats & Information. From 2004 to '07, Palmer threw 104 touchdowns. He has thrown 50 touchdown passes the past three seasons combined. Palmer's Total QBR for 2010 was 46.2, good for 25th best in the NFL.

Since 2008, Palmer has struggled against seven or more defenders in coverage, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He's averaged 6.5 yards per attempt in those situations, which is 29th best in the NFL.

Campbell was efficient in the Raiders' offense because he was a good game manger and didn’t make many mistakes. Palmer will have to improve on his recent spate of poor decision-making. The trade is risky considering the price it cost Oakland -- veterans such as Kyle Orton and Donovan McNabb likely could have been had for much less.

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. doesn’t think Palmer is a top player anymore.

“Palmer does fit the offense, and I think he might, might, be an upgrade over Campbell,” Williamson said. “But I think Oakland way overpaid for an older quarterback that really has not played well for the past few years. He used to be an elite passer, but I haven’t seen that in quite a while. He doesn’t move well. I do think a change of scenery will help him. But he also had led the league in near-interceptions, and his decision-making is just average. He isn’t close to what he once was.”
In his first comments since officially trading Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders, Bengals owner Mike Brown said the quick development of rookie Andy Dalton played a major factor in the team's decision to deal its former franchise quarterback.

“Several factors made us believe that trading Carson to Oakland was the best move for the Bengals at this time,” Brown said in a statement released by the team. “The principal development has been Andy Dalton, who has shown himself to be one of the best and most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL. We have a good, young football team, and Andy can be the cornerstone of that team for a long time."

Brown added, "We also find ourselves rather suddenly in position of being able to receive real value for Carson that can measurably improve our team -- which is performing well and is showing real promise for this year and years to come. When this opportunity arose, we felt we could not let it pass, and needed to take a step forward with the football team if we could.”

Palmer decided not to report to the Bengals this year in an attempt to force a trade. The Bengals, though, were complimentary of Palmer, the first overall pick of the 2003 draft who led Cincinnati to AFC North titles in 2005 and 2009.

“Carson helped elevate the franchise here,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “He played at a very high level for us, and I wish him well with the Raiders. We obviously have a strong belief in the ability of Andy Dalton to continue playing well and to be the leader of our offense. He has been exceptionally effective for a rookie, and as good as he has been, we know he has tremendous potential to be even better.”

The Bengals have two first-round picks in a draft for the first time since 1998, when they selected linebackers Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons.

Carson Palmer is a Raider

October, 18, 2011
10/18/11
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The Carson Palmer trade is official.

The Raiders will send their first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional first-round pick in 2013 to Cincinnati. The 2013 pick will be a first rounder if the Raiders win a playoff game this season. If not, it will be a second-round pick in 2013.

Plenty more to come on this blockbuster.

No one expected the Bengals to trade quarterback Carson Palmer. Even Bengals owner Mike Brown didn't anticipate a move five days ago.

But as the saying goes, the Raiders made the Bengals a deal that they couldn't refuse. Actually, it was a deal no owner or general manager could refuse.

Cincinnati gets a first-round draft pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in 2013 that can become a first-rounder for a quarterback who was never going to play for the team again. The Bengals got two high draft picks when they already have Palmer's replacement in Andy Dalton.

This is a steal for the Bengals. This is highway robbery. Whatever exaggeratory clich you have, it fits the situation.

Say what you want about how Brown has run the team over the years, but his hard-line stance with Palmer paid off. Big time. Brown couldn't get a better deal in his fantasy football league.

This would have been a steal for the Bengals if they were able to get just the 2012 first-round pick from Oakland. The conditional second-rounder in 2013 is just icing on the Bengals' celebration cake.

Remember, this is a deal for a 31-year-old Carson Palmer, not Andrew Luck.

Maybe you could rationalize the draft picks if the Raiders were getting the Palmer from 2005, the one who threw for 3,836 yards and 32 touchdowns. But Oakland is getting the 2011 Palmer, one who has gone through knee and elbow injuries.

From 2008 to 2010, Palmer's QBR was 50, which ranked 26th in the NFL (according to ESPN Stats & Information). He threw 50 touchdowns and 37 interceptions during that time.

In 2010, Palmer tied a career high with 20 interceptions. His 23 turnovers that season were fourth most in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Palmer hasn't been among the NFL's statistically elite quarterbacks since 2007, the season before he missed 12 games with a serious elbow injury.

Throw out the cost of what it took to get Palmer and the Raiders are winners in their own way, too. Palmer is an upgrade over backup Kyle Boller and even Jason Campbell (who injured his collarbone this past Sunday) when healthy. Palmer is probably a better quarterback as of today than Dalton because of his arm strength and experience.

But Palmer was never going to put on a Bengals jersey again. Even if he did, no one in the locker room would welcome him back after he chose to have an extended vacation instead of playing for Cincinnati. After the disastrous four-win season from a year ago, it was time for a fresh start and that meant no Chad Ochocinco and no Palmer.

Brown was probably resigned to trading Palmer next offseason. The Bengals probably would've been ecstatic for a third-round pick for Palmer. A second-round pick? The Who Dey Nation would've called that a pipe dream.

In the NFL, teams are willing to give up second-round picks for emerging 20-something quarterbacks like Matt Cassel in 2009 or Kevin Kolb in 2011. They'll even trade a couple of first-rounders for a 26-year-old quarterback coming off a 4,000-yard Pro Bowl season (Jay Cutler).

Teams just don't give up that much for over-30 passers. In fact, before the Cutler deal, you have to go back to 2002 to find another non-rookie quarterback traded for a first-round pick, and that was Drew Bledsoe.

This just doesn't happen. And this type of good fortune rarely happens for the Bengals, who've had two winning seasons in the past 20 years.

The only way this deal comes back to haunt the Bengals is if Palmer leads the Raiders to the postseason and bumps Cincinnati out of a playoff spot in the process. That would be an embarrassing turn of events.

But the Bengals can't think of such scenarios when a deal like this sits in front of them. It would've sent the wrong message to an already-skeptical fan base if Brown traded Palmer to the Raiders for a 2013 third-round pick. That would just be cutting your losses and helping a potential playoff competitor in the process.

The Bengals head into their bye week with a 4-2 record, a highly ranked defense, an exciting rookie wide receiver and a developing young quarterback. There's a newness and excitement with this team again.

The trading of Palmer Tuesday marks a welcomed surprise in an already-surprising season.

No disputing who is running Raiders

October, 18, 2011
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The Oakland Raiders are Hue Jackson’s team.

One of the biggest questions in the NFL since the Oct. 8 death of Al Davis has been who would lead the Raiders? Davis, the most hands-on owner in sports, had held control of the franchise since the 1960s. The answer is their 45-year-old rookie head coach.

[+] EnlargeHue Jackson
AP Photo/Paul SakumaThe Carson Palmer trade is a clear indication that the Raiders are now Hue Jackson's team.
The Raiders' trade for Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer shows that Jackson has been the given the power to do what he thinks Oakland needs to do.

After looking through an awful list of available quarterbacks (Todd Bouman, Todd Collins, Trent Edwards and Josh McCown were among those the Raiders considered) and deciding against going with backup Kyle Boller, Jackson plucked the flashiest quarterback left. Jackson coached Palmer at USC and in Cincinnati, and he's clearly the player Jackson thinks can keep the 4-2 Raiders in the playoff mix after Jason Campbell broke his collarbone.

The price is steep. The Raiders are sending their first-round pick in 2012 and a conditional first (and at least a second-round pick) in 2013 to the Bengals. The 2013 pick becomes a first-round choice if the Raiders win their first playoff game in nine years this season.

This is an extremely risky deal. Palmer will turn 32 this season and he has been in a decline. The Raiders probably could have gotten veterans Kyle Orton or Donovan McNabb for much cheaper than the rusty Palmer, who hasn't played this season. The trade means Oakland doesn’t have a pick until the fifth round next year (although it probably will get a couple of compensatory picks, which start at the end of the third round, for lost free agents), and it puts the Raiders in a tight salary-cap spot.

I’m sure Jackson is not worried about the trade risks. In his first six games as the head coach in Oakland, Jackson has made several aggressive calls and often pulls out trick plays. This is how Jackson rolls, by rolling the dice. If Palmer is awful and the Raiders don’t make the playoffs, this trade will be Jackson’s legacy in Oakland.

But the point is, Jackson has been given the opportunity to make a legacy pick. This is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility for a man who was brought to Oakland to be the offensive coordinator in 2010. Since Davis’ death, Jackson has said Davis trained him to make personnel decisions, and Jackson has made it clear in the past week-plus that he is the leader of the organization.

There have been reports that Davis’ son, Mark Davis, would look to hire a general manager, probably after the season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Mark is relying on advice from former Raiders employees and Al Davis confidantes John Madden, Ron Wolf and Ken Herock.

Jackson said Monday that every decision he makes includes input from Mark and Raiders CEO Amy Trask. It will be Mark who ultimately decides the structure of the Raiders’ front office. But it is clear the first person to get the chance to lead the Raiders is Jackson and, if his moves work out, he probably will stay in the power chair.

Palmer's price makes Kolb deal appealing

October, 18, 2011
10/18/11
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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?"

The Oakland Raiders are all-in.

And they are as aggressive without Al Davis as they were with him.

Palmer
In what would be one of the biggest NFL trade-deadline deals in recent memory, the Raiders are set to acquire quarterback Carson Palmer from Cincinnati. He had been on the retired list by the Bengals. The price is steep. Oakland is reportedly sending its first-round draft pick in 2012 for Palmer and a conditional first-round pick in 2013 for the quarterback. Oakland has a need at quarterback because starter Jason Campbell broke his collarbone Sunday.

The 4-2 Raiders feel they are a playoff team and this deal shows they are not interested in taking a step back because of Campbell’s injury.

It was the type of deal Davis would make. He died Oct. 8. Oakland coach Hue Jackson (who coached Palmer in the past), Davis’ son, Mark Davis, and CEO Amy Trask are the main decision-makers. They would have made Al Davis proud with this deal.

He often gave away premium picks for older players whom he thought would give his team a chance to win. Palmer will turn 32 in December. If this deal goes through, Oakland’s highest draft pick next year will be a fifth-round selection. They already dealt their second-, third- and fourth-round picks. They are set to get some comp picks for lost free agents, but they start at the end of the third round.

But the Raiders are clearly not worried about the future. They are trying to win right now. That’s why they are adding Palmer. We’ll have more on this trade later.
In a move that seemed unrealistic, the Cincinnati Bengals are on the verge of trading disgruntled quarterback Carson Palmer to the Oakland Raiders for a 2012 first-round pick and conditional 2013 pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Palmer
This move is surprising because Bengals owner Mike Brown had been adamant about not moving Palmer, who has decided to sit out rather this season rather than play for Cincinnati. It was only three years ago when Brown reportedly turned down two first-round picks for receiver Chad Ochocinco.

According to FoxSports' Jay Glazer, who first reported that the trade was close, the key to the deal was the relationship between Brown and Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, who was a Bengals assistant from 2004 to 2006. Jackson apparently got Brown to budge on his stance.

The Raiders need a quarterback after Jason Campbell went down last Sunday with a collarbone injury. The Bengals' 4-2 start under rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has helped them move on without Palmer.

It's an interesting decision for the Bengals because they are helping another AFC team that has a winning record. Cincinnati could end up competing for a playoff spot against the same Raiders team that it just gave a starting quarterback.

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