Mike Brown is a stubborn, hard-headed fool. But even the really old boys of the NFL’s old boys club were once savvy businessmen. Maybe that explains why the Bengals owner has finally pounced on an opportunity to move his disgruntled quarterback, and why this happened…
ESPN’s Adam Schefter later confirmed the trade, with Glazer adding that Hue Jackson’s close relationship with Brown played a key role in the effort to finally and mercifully end the Brown/Palmer standoff.
And it gets better, with Glazer also reporting that in addition to the first-round pick in 2012, the conditional pick is a second-rounder in 2013, and that pick can be easily bumped up to another first-rounder if the Raiders win a playoff game. So that’s potentially two first-round picks for a quarterback who’s five years removed from his best season.
The motivation here is easy to understand, but the mountainous price for a 31-year-old quarterback isn’t. At 4-2 the Raiders are currently one game behind the Chargers in the AFC West, and have the league’s top runner in their backfield. This is a team that was feeling confident after hitting the .500 mark for the first time last year since their Super Bowl appearance in 2002, and a front office that’s still operating under the emotional weight of Al Davis’ passing.
Playing amateur psychologist is a role that’s always far above my pay grade, but the commemorative symbol on their jersey and tributes that will continue all season suggest the Raiders will be driven by Davis. And that’s how it should be, but it doesn’t mean that Davis’ complete disregard for draft picks has to still be a primary organizational principle.
Under normal circumstances the price Oakland paid for Palmer would be steep, and under Raider circumstances it’s a titanic anchor. With Jason Campbell gone for the year, and David Garrard unavailable as a cheaper option, Jackson’s time in Cincinnati as the wide receivers coach presented a strong connection and an opportunity, one that needed to be pursued. In the vacuum of just this trade the investment in Palmer is still incredibly pricey and insane, but understandable during a time of desperation. This is the behavior of a panicked franchise.
There are never normal circumstances with the Raiders. Davis’ legacy left behind a 2012 draft cupboard that was already quite bare after four other acquisitions involving picks over the past two seasons:
- Bringing in Campbell from Washington cost a fourth-round pick.
- A trade with New England to move back into the third and fourth rounds last spring and select Taiwan Jones and Joseph Barksdale cost Oakland a second-round pick in 2012.
- A third-round pick was used for the selection of Terrelle Pryor during the supplemental draft.
- A seventh-round pick was given to Seattle in last week’s trade for linebacker Aaron Curry.
Barring some other trade wizardry, the Oakland management team can sit at home and eat greasy pizza and drink beer during the first few rounds of the draft like the rest of us. The won’t have a pick until the fifth round.
This is a talented team, and a team that had the potential to fight for a playoff berth before Campbell’s injury. That potential still remains now that Palmer has grabbed onto the Oakland life-line, but the price paid for his services reflects the kind of massive investment made only if there’s one last piece remaining in a championship puzzle. Oakland’s jigsaw is missing a few pieces, most of which are on the other side of the ball.
Life after Nnamdi Asomugha hasn’t been easy, and the Raiders are giving up 25 points per game (25th). They’re also coughing up nearly 400 total yards per game (28th), most of which are coming on the ground due to a run defense that’s allowing 4.9 yards per carry (28th). Those averages aren’t the averages of a championship defense, and maybe not even a playoff defense.
Palmer’s expected performance is unknown and unpredictable after he missed training camp and the first six weeks of the season. He hasn’t played a snap of competitive football since last January, and now he’ll be asked to be a savior for a team carrying some serious emotional baggage.
Soon he could be longing for the days when he was Mr. Mom.