The Oakland Raiders traded a first- and second-round pick for Carson Palmer last year to solve their quarterback situation for the long haul. While Palmer will most definitely be the starter to open the season, the longer view remains cloudy under new GM Reggie McKenzie.
Palmer was rough at first, which was to be expected when he was thrown into an unfamiliar offense with unfamiliar receivers after having no training camp or practices with the Raiders until the week he played. He improved as the season went on, but it wasn't enough to get the team into the playoffs. He'll start for the whole season barring injury.
With a salary of $13 million in 2013 and $15 million of 2014, McKenzie will be watching Palmer closely to see if he is worthy of those hefty paychecks. If he's not, the Raiders are still unlikely to turn to recently signed backup Matt Leinart, who is familiar with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp's scheme from the time the two spent together in Houston.
Leinart can be a good game manager, but he lacks the arm strength to get the vertical passing game going. The Raiders know he can keep them in games if Palmer goes down. They must be unsure about second-year QB Terrelle Pryor's ability to do that, otherwise they wouldn't have signed Leinart.
Pryor, the third-string QB, was acquired in the third round of the supplemental draft last year, so he's yet another QB that McKenzie was stuck with by the previous regime. He's big and athletic, but he's very raw as a passer. If the team is pleased with his development this year and Palmer falters, he could get a shot to start in 2013.
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