Back in September, Bengals owner Mike Brown talked about his supposedly retired quarterback Carson Palmer: "He's going to walk away from his commitment," Brown said. "We aren't going to reward him for doing it."
So much for that. By trading Palmer to the Raiders on Tuesday, Brown rewarded his franchise by securing a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick in 2013 that could turn into a first-rounder if the Raiders make the AFC title game this season or next. Nice reward for the Bengals.
I maintained all along that I thought Brown would never trade Palmer. But never did I think that some team would offer a king's ransom for his services. The Raiders are paying dearly for Palmer. And I can say, having worked for Al Davis for eight years, I'm not sure he would have paid that price.
In doing research for the trade, the first thing Davis would have asked me for would have been the background of every trade made for a quarterback in recent years. My research would have examined the Jay Cutler trade between the Bears and Broncos, using that as the high water point in terms of compensation (see box, right). The Eagles trading Donovan McNabb to Washington for a second also would have been examined.
However, in this particular trade scenario, Brown held all the cards. Either his price was met, or Palmer stayed retired. It's hard to win a deal that way, and Davis always wanted to win deals.
With Jason Campbell's injury, the Raiders' possible playoff run was in peril, so they made a bold move to save their season. But can Palmer really be their savior? This is where I have my doubts. When in the past three seasons has Palmer looked like the quarterback that could make plays and carry a team? Great quarterbacks must make the players around them better and make the offense dangerous. Indianapolis this season is a perfect example of that.
The question the Raiders needed to ask themselves before making the trade was: Would we make this deal if Campbell stayed healthy? If they said yes, they should proceed along. No injury should require a team to mortgage the future. Seasons come and go. Teams must think about today, and prepare for tomorrow. The most successful teams in the league make decisions for the long term and not just what is best for today. Thinking one day at a time is extremely dangerous. And let's face it: The Raiders made this move for today.
Palmer has much to prove to himself and his critics. At times the past few years, he looked like he lost arm strength. He also looked slow, unable to buy a second look in the pocket or take a broken play and make a good one, something Campbell has done often and well this year.
Palmer hated playing in Cincinnati in part because of the offensive system but also because of the chaotic, old-school thinking that permeates throughout the organization. In Oakland, head coach Hue Jackson seems to have the authority to run the football, which should make Palmer feel more confident about his football future. And Palmer and Jackson share the same agent, which means they are both tied to one another in more ways than one.
Jackson sent a message to the NFL that clearly he is in charge of the Raiders. They still might hire a football man to be GM, but essentially Jackson will be involved in that decision, making him the power broker in Oakland. The trade wouldn't have happened without Jackson's knowledge of Palmer and without Jackson putting all his faith -- and career -- on the line.
It's a bold move. We'll see how Palmer and Jackson show their talents to the rest of the NFL. It's a dangerous move, too, one that would make me nervous because I'm not sure Palmer can rekindle the 2006 version of his play.
Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi