After the loss of Jason Campbell for the season, it was clear that the Raiders needed a new QB, with backup Kyle Boller never being a real option to win them games. Instead of signing someone off waivers, the Raiders went big, trading for former Bengals QB Carson Palmer. In return, the Bengals get the Raiders’ 2012 first round pick and their 2013 second or first round pick (first if they make it to AFC Championship this year or next, highly doubtful).
For the Bengals, this is a definite win. Andy Dalton has established himself as the QB of the future in Cincinnati and has already delivered more this season than almost everyone (including me) thought he would. Palmer is an aging QB with injury concerns and only okay statistics over the past three seasons. His trade value would not have been nearly this high at any time in the off-season, and a team that has already showed a ton of promise now has two very high draft picks with which to improve this team. Additionally, the Bengals did make their point to other players, with Palmer missing a bunch of the season and only being traded for very high picks. Don’t expect any other Bengals to think of trying a similar move.
For Carson Palmer, this was one of the best moves possible for him. He moves to a winning team that runs the ball first and does not have an overly complicated passing scheme. Someone with his intelligence should be able to pick this offense up quickly. Their next two opponents are under-performing teams (Chiefs next week, Broncos week 9), with a bye in between the two. This gives Palmer time to learn the offense while probably not being forced to carry this team, and it will be almost a month before he faces a truly difficult opponent (Chargers in week 10). Finally, Carson is the undoubted starter at QB, and if he performs at an average level should maintain that starting position next season over Jason Campbell, who is simply not as good as Palmer.
For the Raiders, this is a high-stakes gamble. Personally, I think they gave away WAY too much for a QB that hasn’t performed at an elite level since 2006. This Raiders team is young, fast, and aggressive, and those two picks could have done a lot more to help this team in the future. Nevertheless, this trade is a statement that they think they can compete now or in the very near future, a statement that may not be that far off if the trade for Palmer ends well.
In summation, the grading of this trade really depends on the play of Palmer over the next couple of seasons. The Bengals are winners regardless of Palmer’s outcome, but whether the Raiders come out winners or not is unknown. They have a long history of taking gambles on questionable players, with some good outcomes (Richard Seymour), some outcomes mediocre but with some hope (Darrius Heyward-Bey), and some huge busts (JaMarcus Russell). We’ll have to wait and see if this gamble pays off.