In Madden franchise mode, it is frustratingly difficult to trade for a future first-round pick. Those things are valuable building blocks for a team, even if they only contain future value. Successful football teams are built through successful drafts.
Through six weeks of the season, the 4-3 Oakland Raiders were on a roll. Head Coach Hue Jackson had the team rolling and poised to challenge the San Diego Chargers for an AFC West division title. Then starting quarterback Jason Campbell broke his collarbone and was declared done for the year.
What to do? Logic would certainly tell Oakland to attempt to salvage a promising season with backup quarterback Kyle Boller — as bad as he is — at the helm, or turn to a cheap free agent. Additionally, the franchise did just spend a third-round pick on former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
But no. In a complete panic move, the Raiders compromised their future by trading a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2013 (this pick will become another first-round pick if Oakland makes it to the AFC title game in either of the next two years) to the Cincinnati Bengals for Carson Palmer.
Sunday, against division-foes Kansas City Chiefs, Palmer did not start the game but entered for the Raiders in the second half after three interceptions from Boller. There is the Raiders’ first mistake right there. You stick the guy who is fresh-off-the-couch into the game after less than a week of practice and hope that he can rally the team in the second half and head forward. Not so much. Palmer went eight for 21 in the game, finishing with 116 yards and tying his fellow QB with three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in a 28-0 loss.
The Raiders’ move to trade for Palmer cannot be described as anything other than a complete overreaction. This is a young team built for the near future. This trade compromises that bright future, swapping potentially championship-caliber building blocks for a borderline top-15 NFL quarterback whose best years are behind him — a good five-to-six years behind him, that is.
Carson Palmer was the number one pick out of USC, had a few borderline-great years in Cincinnati, was surprisingly funny on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” but is not the answer for the Oakland Raiders. Palmer, who has never won a playoff game, is simply overrated.
Palmer’s best season was in 2005 when, while leading the Bengals to an AFC North division title, he threw for 3,836 yards and 32 touchdowns. He got injured in the divisional playoffs that season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and hasn’t been the same player since — certainly not worth what the Raiders gave up to get him.
He compiled decent stats for the Bengals last season with 3,970 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, but also threw a career-high 20 interceptions. Over the past two seasons, Palmer has thrown for 47 touchdowns and 33 interceptions with a passer rating of 82.9 in route to a 14-18 record — all unimpressive statistics.
His elbow injury has noticeably hampered him, particularly on short out-routes where he is unable to get the same speed on the ball to prevent defenders from cutting the route, then proceeding to take the interception to the house. Usually, resulting in Palmer struggling to catch up, before diving at the defender’s heels as he crosses the goaline.
As my long-time friend and die-hard Bengals fan puts it, “The only good throws he makes anymore are to the other team.” Sounds like a player worth a couple of first round picks to me (So much sarcasm going on.)
Carson Palmer is the same as Jason Campbell! Maybe even worse! The Raiders should have taken the blow of losing their starting quarterback, and continued to work hard and improve in all other aspects of the game. Sure, you may not make the playoffs this year, but you have a young, exciting and improving team built for the future. I just don’t get it. But, it would be hilarious if Palmer sucked it up and then lost his starting gig to Campbell in training camp next summer.
So the Raiders are doing this because they think they can win and win deep into the playoffs now. Like, right now, apparently. How is signing a mistake-prone, injury-riddled, formerly good but rarely ever great quarterback who hasn’t been practicing and is certainly not in shape going to help?
Oakland, understandably, didn’t want to squander a 4-2 start to the season while playing in a winnable division (San Diego, despite being 4-2, hasn’t been impressive). Coach Jackson, who recruited and coached Palmer at USC and was an assistant in Cincinnati with him, believes Palmer is the perfect fit. Apart from hating USC football, I generally believe it is unwise when a coach pleads to get a former player back on his team, believing that it will turn things around. I could understand this trade if the price paid was not so incredibly steep.
I’m not saying Palmer won’t be decent. I’m not saying the Raiders won’t make the playoffs or even beat out the Chargers to win the division. But in three or four years, they will regret it. The Raiders will be a slowly aging perennial playoff football team with one or two playoff victories and maybe even a division title to show for it. Meanwhile, Carson Palmer will no longer be a valuable starting quarterback, and the Bengals could be knocking on the door of Super Bowl contenders. It takes draft picks to develop and create a winning football team — draft picks that the Raiders won’t have for the next two years.