Oakland Raiders  

 

Oakland's trade for Palmer was bad then, worse now

Revisionist history. It's something everyone likes to do -- that is, everyone who can't own up to something when it blows up in their faces. My quotes were taken out of context. I never said at the beginning of the season Curtis Painter would be a great quarterback, what I said was that he could be great if he was a better player and more talented.

Hue Jackson is going through that now as we take time away from the playoffs to look back at the biggest trade in the NFL in 2011 -- Carson Palmer to the Raiders for a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-round pick in 2013. Jackson said this week it wasn't his deal alone to do, and it wasn't his decision to give away draft picks. He was just the guy who knew the two parties (coaching in Cincinnati while Palmer was there) and put them together to see if there was a deal to be done.

Hang on a second. After the deal was completed, Jackson called it the "greatest trade in football" and that HE set out to find the best QB to help the Raiders win. He went from Fargo Jerry Lundegaard's "This is a great deal I'm bringing you here, Wade!" to "Whoa, I'm only the guy who's getting a finder's fee" pretty quickly.

It was a bad deal then, and it's an even worse deal now. And I'm not just saying that as my own 'revisionist history.' I said it then, and I'm saying it now. Being a radio personality for much of my career, I couldn't get away with revisionist history, because there are always listeners who remember the things you got wrong. For instance, someone reminded me this week how I said the Heat would beat the Mavericks in the NBA Finals and the Jets would get Nnamdi Asomugha. So accountability is sort of built in. (Thank goodness the guy didn't remember I predicted the conference title games would be Jets-Chargers and Cowboys-Packers.)

No one was making a move for Palmer because you had already seen his best, and currently he's a middle-of-the-pack QB. True, middle-of-the-pack now is much better than it used to be, but it's still in the middle.

Palmer has been done as an elite quarterback for a long time. You can say he never fully made it back from his torn ACL in 2005. This is the era of the passer in the NFL, where Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are throwing 40 TDs a year and that club is ever-expanding. Palmer hasn't topped 26 in a season since 2006. Nine players threw 26 or more TDs in 2011. (Mark Sanchez!) You say it's about QB rating instead of touchdowns? Palmer's lifetime QB rating is 86.3. There were 18 QBs with higher ratings this season. (Kevin Kolb!)

Palmer was, at his best, very good, but never took that next step. And at this point in his career, he's an acceptable quarterback. Better than Rex Grossman, but still looking up at Jay Cutler. I understand the Raiders felt the need to do something bold in the wake of Al Davis' passing and the injury to Jason Campbell. But this is where cooler heads had to prevail. You overpaid for someone Mike Brown was holding hostage. Palmer hadn't played in a full season. He was OK with retiring. And this was someone who was going to come in, learn the playbook and take you to the playoffs? I get that you were stuck, and had to do something. But you were better off trying to get Brett Favre. At least you know he can come off the couch and play well.

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The Raiders were 4-2 when Campbell got hurt. They went 4-6 the rest of the season. Palmer threw 13 TDs and 16 INTs. You went all-in for one season and I admire the guts. But this is why decisions like this aren't made emotionally. Were you really that much worse off with Jake Delhomme, Troy Smith, or even bringing back Trent Edwards? I can't believe Edwards' asking price was higher than you giving up a first and a second for Palmer. What the Raiders failed to realize was that they were acquiring the 2011 Carson Palmer, and not the 2004 version. And this version, while still capable of 300-yard days, isn't so much of an upgrade over the players I just mentioned that it makes losing a first and a second worthwhile.

So where do you sit now? You're stuck with Palmer and his eroding abilities. Forget about help through the draft, because you don't select in the first four rounds this year, outside of potential compensatory picks. Had you called the Bengals' bluff, you might have been able to get Palmer and keep your first-round pick, which potentially could have turned into Ryan Tannehill.

But what might hurt the most is this. Despite Palmer throwing to a revitalized Terrell Owens in 2010, the Bengals went 4-12 with a 10-game losing streak. Exit Palmer, exit T.O., exit Ochocinco and where were the Bengals this season? 9-7 with a rookie QB and in the playoffs.

Now I have to go meet Steve Buscemi with the ransom money.

Jason Smith writes fantasy and other NFL pith on NFL.com daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.

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