Mike Brown finally gave in to Carson Palmer's trade demand on Tuesday, sending Palmer to the 4-2 Raiders, who apparently decided that Palmer is good enough to take them to the playoffs and beyond. They gave up a first round pick in 2012 and possibly a second round pick in 2013 (that would become a first round pick if Oakland wins a playoff game).
Of course, if he's not the player who makes you a Super Bowl contender, then giving up those picks for Palmer is absolutely insane. And he wasn't that player in 2010, we know, so let's work under the assumption that this makes no sense.
Isn't that also why we love the Oakland Raiders?
These are two separate points, so let's take them one at a time. First, the trade. The Raiders weren't exactly negotiating with a lot of leverage here. They lost Jason Campbell for at least six weeks thanks to a broken collarbone on Sunday, and their options behind him (Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor) are probably closer to being CFL-starters than capable NFL backups. So yeah: Oakland needed a QB. Maybe they even needed to overpay.
But, to put the Palmer trade in perspective, in the spring of 2009, when the Washington Redskins traded for Donovan McNabb, they gave up a second round pick in the 2010 draft, and what turned into a fourth round pick in the 2011 draft.
So, this--McNabb's 2009 stats with the Eagles--is what was worth a second and fourth-round pick to the Redskins:
- 14 games,
- 267-443 completions
- 60.3 completion %
- 3,553 yards
- 22 touchdowns
- 10 interceptions
And this--Palmer's stats in 2010--was worth (potentially) two first-round picks to Oakland.
- 16 games
- 362-586 completions
- 61.8 completion %
- 3,970 yards
- 26 touchdowns
- 20 interceptions
When Dan Snyder's decision-making makes a team look reckless and incompetent by comparison, you know we've crossed way past the threshold for "aggressive" management, and we're teetering on the brink of a franchise that needs to be institutionalized ASAP.
But again, this is why we've loved the Raiders all along.
In the era of oversaturated media coverage and hyper-analytic breakdowns of every nook and cranny the NFL has to offer, the Oakland Raiders and their fans are the ones at the party who proudly don't give a s--t what anyone else thinks about how ridiculous they look.
Analysts always say, "The NFL's a copy-cat league" and then they point at all the different teams trying to steal the latest blueprint for success. But as everyone becomes a copy-cat, the Raiders stand blissfully detached from conventional wisdom, annually forging an island of misfit toys in their Black Hole, making themselves the ultimate misfit toy in the NFL, where everyone's in a constant race to become the Patriots.
This may be why it's hard to imagine Oakland ever putting together a contender, but also why it's impossible not to root for them in the meantime. Just look at the past decade or so. From a piece on the Raiders last year, this is the Raiders since the turn of the century:
This is a team that's employed the two best receivers of all time (Rice, Moss), suffered through the biggest officiating controversy of the NFL's replay era, traded their boy genius head coach (Jon Gruden) after a 10-6 season, made the Super Bowl the next year and got blown out by a team coached by that same boy genius, followed up their Super Bowl season with a 4-12 season, hired Norv Turner, traded for Moss, then fired Turner, hired Art Shell, went 2-14, drafted Jamarcus Russell first overall, hired and fired the youngest coach in NFL history, ceding the head coaching position to a man whose only head coaching experience produced a .239 winning percentage at The University of Idaho.
And that was before they replaced Tom Cable with Hue Jackson this summer, allowed their best player to walk in free agency without replacing him, their fans started a brawl at a preseason game with the 49ers, their beloved owner passed away, and the front office gambled the immediate future of the franchise on a 31 year-old quarterback who hasn't been good since 2006. It's all so crazy that at some point, it has to work.
So why not 2011? For now, this is a trade where everyone wins.
Carson Palmer finally gets a fresh start after martyring himself for the past six months in Cincinnati. And whatever you want to say about the Palmer's decision to hold out for a trade, we can all agree that a fresh start was probably best for everyone involved out there.
As for the Bengals, Mike Brown looks like a genius for holding onto Palmer and driving his value through the roof, waiting for a team to suffer a QB-injury and come to them desperate and willing to overpay. That he found the Raiders, the only team crazy enough to overpay like that, just makes the victory even sweeter. Cincy's already got an intriguing young corps, and with two early-round picks added to the mix the next few years, things are finally lookin' up in Cincy.
And then the Raiders. Everyone will see this trade and say Oakland's crazy, and they'll be right, as usual. The Raiders gave up too much, considering the context. But what they still have left are weapons all over the field, a good running game and a solid offensive line.
It's already Carson Palmer's best offense since his best years as a Bengal, and he'll be reunited with a coach that worked with him at USC and then again in Cincinnati--the same years ('05, '06) when he thrived. All things considered, there's a decent chance this works better than you think, and Carson Palmer comes in and gives that offense 10 solid games and a trip to the playoffs, where all hell can break loose. If that happens, does it really matter how much they gave up?
There's enough talent to make a run here, and the Raiders won with this trade because they didn't let their season shatter right along with Jason Campbell's collarbone. Maybe the trade makes no sense next to the way other teams do business, but in the end, maybe that's what makes it so perfect. The Raiders have never made sense to anyone but themselves.
It would feel strange if they ever did.
So in a year dedicated to Al Davis, it's only right that they'd say, "Screw it, let's go deep" with a trade that defies the wisdom of sportswriters and GMs and armchair experts everywhere.
The only thing more perfect will be when it works.