Carson Palmer: Should Oakland Raiders Never Have Acquired Him to Begin With?

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIApril 2, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 18: Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders scrambles away from Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions at Coliseum on December 18, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Carson Palmer experiment in Oakland has officially ended (via CBS Sports) with the Raiders sending Palmer plus a draft pick to the Arizona Cardinals for two draft picks.

It doesn't seem so long ago that the Oakland Raiders were a team that was almost a shoe-in to make the playoffs after acquiring Palmer in a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals.  

This occurred in the middle of the 2011 season.  The Raiders were at one point a 7-4 team in sole possession of the AFC West.  Then the Raiders lost four of their last five games while Tim Tebow had his one-hit wonder of a season to knock Oakland out of the playoffs.  That chain of events would send the franchise into a tailspin.

Before that tailspin, the Raiders' 2011 season had some major turbulence.  On Oct. 8 of that year, Al Davis passed away.  A week later, QB Jason Campbell was lost for the season to injury.  The following week, Darren McFadden joined Campbell on the inactive roster.  The severity of McFadden's injury was kept secret, but he was also lost for the year.

In the midst of all this turbulence, the Raiders traded a 2012 first-round and 2013 second-round draft pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for the semi-retired Palmer.  What the trade symbolized was that the Raiders wanted to win now with a veteran QB, not rebuild with draft picks.

Sure, it was a desperate move.  But how much of a shot did the Raiders have to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years with Kyle Boller under center? 

Of course, we know how the story ends a year-and-a-half later.  But back in 2011, with the silver and black leading the AFC West, did Raider Nation want to see Boller lead the way?


Boller had a half of a game to showcase his potential, but he was then benched in favor of Carson Palmer, who had been with the team for just five days.  

The Raiders' other option at QB was rookie Terrelle Pryor.  Pryor had been suspended for the first six weeks of the season following a scandal in college, so he was no further ahead of Palmer in terms of learning the offense.  Of course, Pryor had never even played a down in the NFL.

We know now that the Raiders did not make the playoffs in 2011—or 2012 for that matter.  But at the time, Palmer was acquired to save the Raiders' most realistic playoff hopes since 2003.

Palmer should not be blamed for the Raiders absolutely horrible defensive collapses in 2011, particularly in the losses to the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills.

If I could go back, I would still make the trade.  Would I give up the draft picks that Hue Jackson gave up? No.  Would I give Palmer the contract that Hue Jackson gave him? No.  Would I still want to acquire Palmer to save the team's chances of finally returning to the playoffs?