As soon as news broke that the Oakland Raiders traded two top draft picks for “retired” Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer some so called pundits blasted the Raiders as foolish, misguided, or even dumb. It would seem Hue Jackson knows more than you. Sure he was speaking hyperbole about it being the best trade of all time, but it was definitely a good deal. It’s what Al would have done, and it will be an especially good deal if those accelerators kick in because that would mean that the Raiders have made it back to the top of the AFC.
Based on six quarters of play from a guy who just the week before was sitting on his couch in semi-retirement, people are concluding that he’s no good anymore. If you think about it, when he came in at halftime of the Chiefs game, that was like his intro in a preseason game. Then he followed up with the Denver game in which he made some strides. Then in his third preseason game, the dress rehearsal as they call it, he looked every bit the former all-pro that he used to be. He threw with accuracy, he made all of his reads, and he’ll never fool anyone for Mike Vick or even Tim Tebow, but he was able to elude some pressure to make the play. Next week would be like the start of his season, and it looks like he’s ready.
When Palmer was drafted number one overall as the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out of “Running Back U” USC, he had the luxury of holding the clipboard his rookie season and learning the ropes. After that Carson was handed the reins and began what looked to be a hall of fame type career. In his second season as starter he led the Bengals to an 11-5 record and the playoffs. He threw 32 touchdowns and led the league in completion percentage. He also went nine consecutive games with a passer rating over 100, tying a record held with Peyton Manning.
It was that fateful January day in 2006 when things changed for him. On the first pass play of the game he set a Bengals all-time playoff record with a 66 yard TD pass to Chris Henry. After he released the pass, his knee was crashed into by Steeler lineman Kimo von oelhoffen, and Palmer’s career was immediately in jeopardy. The doctors confirmed a torn ACL and MCL to go along with significant cartilage and meniscus damage. He would come back from that to be the same Palmer as he was before, evidenced by his going to the Pro Bowl and being named MVP.
During the 2008 season things weren’t going so well for the team at the time, and early in the season he developed elbow trouble which later turned into a torn ligament. Usually this type of injury requires Tommy John Surgery, but Palmer elected for rehab instead and in March of 2009 declared himself “100% healthy.” He was back yet, but he didn’t seem to be the same guy anymore. He had lost a bit of zip on some of his throws. He brought them back to the playoffs in 2009, winning the division for the first time since 2005. 2010 was a lost year as they bombed out going 4-12.
Tired of losing and feeling like nothing would ever happen there, Palmer requested to be traded in January. That request was immediately turned down by team President Mike Brown. “I’ve got $80 million in the bank” Palmer reportedly said; “I don’t play football for money. I’ll play it for the love of the game, but that would have to be elsewhere.” He indicated that if he was not traded he was prepared to retire. Brown called his bluff, and Palmer has been sitting at home ever since wondering if he would get another chance to play in the NFL.
Jason Campbell’s loss was Palmer’s gain when Campbell broke his collarbone on a tackle in week six. Hue Jackson had formed a relationship not only with Palmer while with the Bengals, but also with Brown. He negotiated a hard deal, but he believed he was the best thing for the Raiders. Brown “caved” for a number one pick next year, and a conditional number two in 2013. Palmer is a Raider, which brings us to today.
I’m not going to count the ridiculous half he played against KC so, he has a 1-1 record as the starter. He’s thrown for 631 yards on 64% passing with five TD’s and yes four picks. He’s hitting short passes, intermediate passes and long bombs as well, all with the pin point accuracy he used to have. I think he’s only going to get better as the season wears on. Since he’s basically only playing half a season he should be better physically at the end of the year than everyone else. He’s going to lead the Raiders this season to the division title and the playoffs. I’m hoping he earns the Bengals that second number one.