A perfect storm swept into Oakland just before the trade deadline of the 2011 NFL season. The Raiders got off to a good start in the season, largely thanks to Darren McFadden and the running game, quarterback Jason Campbell went down with a broken collarbone and long-time owner Al Davis passed away.
The conditions were perfect for the Raiders to make a trade for a quarterback. And that quarterback ended up being former Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer.
Palmer quit on the Bengals after the 2010 season, saying that he wanted a trade or he would retire. Mike Brown, the notoriously stingy owner of the Bengals seemed content with Palmer retiring and wouldn't give into his demands for a trade. They drafted quarterback Andy Dalton out of TCU and were successful early in the season with him under center. Hue Jackson, who had ties in Cincinnati, inquired about Palmer's availability for the Raiders, seeing a quarterback that could take a good team and make them a playoff contender. Nobody saw the trade coming, especially after Brown's public comments about Palmer living up to his contract.
But then it did happen and it was huge. Carson Palmer was traded to the Oakland Raiders and what the Raiders gave up was almost unbelievable. When some figured that the Bengals would get at most a second- or third-round pick for their former quarterback, the Raiders sent them a 2012 first-round pick and a conditional second-round pick in 2013 that could become a first rounder if the Raiders win a divisional playoff game in the next two seasons. People were shocked. Bengals nation celebrated while the Raiders fans seemed to be split, some of them loving the trade, some of them hating it.
Palmer played the second half of the team's Week 7 game and finished out the season. After Week 17 was over, he ended up completing 199 of 328 passes for 2,753 yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 80.5.
Most importantly, though, the Raiders lost in Week 17, which knocked them out of the playoffs and ultimately left Hue Jackson without a job.
Jackson was a major factor in the Palmer trade. Most viewed Carson Palmer as a quarterback who was past his prime and was too banged up and "Bengalized" to be anything more than mediocre anymore. Even through the 2009 season, in which the Bengals swept the AFC North, Palmer was decent at best. That team relied heavily on Cedric Benson and the running game and a strong defense. When push came to shove and the Bengals were forced to throw the ball, they failed more often than not. Jackson put all of Oakland's eggs in the Palmer basket when he gave away two possible first-round picks (and now we know it's a first and a second-round pick) and in the end, when the Raiders were eliminated from post-season play, it came back to bite him.
Now the Raiders are left with a quarterback that may be good and may not be. He had some good games this season in Oakland and you have to think that if he's given an entire offseason with his new team and his new receivers that they could be much better in 2012, but after giving up so much in pursuit of the playoffs didn't work out, heads were bound to roll. Now the Raiders are left without a first-round pick in 2012, a first-round pick that they could really use to help solidify their team. Instead the Bengals will have their would be No. 17 overall pick as well as the No. 21 overall pick.
If the Raiders had won their final game of the season and gone to the playoffs, things would likely have been much different, even if they went one and done. The fans that did not support the Palmer trade would have come around based on the fact that the Raiders were in the postseason for the first time since 2002 and Hue Jackson would have been a hard coach to fire.
However, since they missed the playoffs and gave up so much to get there, his firing was seen from miles away.
Now that somebody has been punished, the Raiders can start from scratch before the 2012 season. If Palmer can get back to his old ways, the Raiders can dominate the weak AFC West. However, if it turns out that he really is a mediocre quarterback who is past his prime, this trade will turn out to be one of the worst in the history of the league and that will always follow Hue Jackson wherever he goes.