Carson Palmer — The next Jim Plunkett or Jeff George?
It’s been a day since the Raiders landed Carson Palmer in a trade with the Bengals, and I’m still not sure what to think (hot dog jokes aside). While I can’t get on board yet with the idea that Oakland will ride Palmer to the AFC title, I also can’t agree with the pundits and fans who instantly declared this a swindle on Cincy’s part.
In terms of the trade terms — it will be a lot easier to tell if a first-round draft pick next year and a first or second rounder in 2013 is too steep a price to pay for a QB many think is past his prime. After all, if Palmer can lead the Raiders into the AFC championship, won’t that be worth the loss of two picks that may or may not work out anyway?
I have to say that what makes me most uneasy is that I remember watching post-knee injury Palmer struggle mightily in Cincinnati. He looked like a shell of his former self, and that is the quarterback I fear might be donning the #3 silver and black jersey now. Then again, I’ve read some accounts by supposedly knowledgeable Bengals fans who blame their team’s woes on a coaching staff hell-bent on catering to divas like Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. They claim that Palmer was essentially forced to deal with his receivers missing meetings and running their own routes. Watching Chad completely fail with a much more disciplined New England team this season makes me wonder if there isn’t some truth in those claims.
Any Raider fan who is extremely pumped about this trade needs to ask themselves — if the Broncos or Chiefs had been the ones to make this move, would you be the first in line to mock them for bringing in a washed-up QB? Because if the answer is “yes,” how can you claim that we’re watching the beginning of Jim Plunkett, Part 2?
Now about this “retirement” business. You and I both know that this was nothing more than a contract ploy by Palmer. This isn’t Brett Favre coming back in for one more shot at glory; I believe that Palmer really wanted to keep playing football and that he really didn’t want to do it in Cincinnati anymore.
What made this situation somewhat different is that Mike Brown was just as unwilling to blink as Palmer was. Usually in a scenario like that you’d see an owner or GM grudgingly give in and acceded to an unhappy player’s demands, or the player would think better of it and report to camp. That simply didn’t happen here. Either way, the idea that Palmer had to be convinced to “unretire” is silly.
Regardless of how the Palmer Era turns out, this was a bold move by a team that is desperate to make a statement in the post-Al Davis era. Hue Jackson obviously believes his team is on a roll and stands to lose their momentum with Kyle Boller under center. That much I agree with. While Jason Campbell was no world-beater, he was an efficient leader who made very few bonehead mistakes. If Palmer can even do that much, a winning season is well within Oakland’s reach — not to mention a chance to win their first AFC West crown since 2002. I’d be down with that, draft picks be damned.