Terrelle Pryor is too raw to be trusted with the Oakland Raiders' starting quarterback position. However, that's still better than overpaying Carson Palmer and continuing to be saddled with his comically large contract.
Carson Palmer is due $13 million in 2013, which is a downright bargain in comparison to the $15 million he is set to make in 2014. In every other way, it is a terrible value.
The large cap numbers and the Raiders' lack of other proven options at quarterback have fueled speculation that the Raiders would attempt to restructure Palmer's deal.
Palmer is not a fan of that option. At least not according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Interesting: now "highly unlikely" Carson Palmer will be willing to restructure his contract meaning OAK pays him $13 million or cuts him.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 25, 2013
To reduce his cap number for last season, the Raiders converted a large portion of his 2012 salary into a signing bonus, which could then be prorated over the life of the contract for cap purposes.
So, if the Raiders were to cut him now, the remainder of that bonus, which is spread out over the next four seasons, would all count against the cap now.
Should the Raiders cut Palmer?
As Spotrac shows us, all of this means that if the Raiders were to cut Palmer now, it would create over $9 million in "dead money." In other words, if Palmer was cut, the Raiders would save just under $6 million in cap space for this season.
While that in and of itself is not such an enormous savings that the Raiders should automatically cut Palmer, this move has to be done with an eye on the future.
Cutting Palmer now would free up the Raiders from any cap hits due to Palmer's bloated contract in future seasons, and that is why this move needs to be made.
The Raiders are in rebuilding mode. While Palmer was decent last year while working with limited talent around him, he was still a mistake-prone quarterback who picked up too many of his stats in garbage time.
It would be foolish for the Raiders to think that whether they have Palmer at quarterback or not would be the difference between them making the postseason or being a playoff bystander once again.
It is time for the Raiders to fully embrace this rebuilding project and cut Palmer loose.
This would leave the Raiders with the prospect of scouring a near-barren market for a veteran free-agent quarterback, taking a quarterback with the third pick in the NFL draft or rolling with Pryor and/or a veteran or a lower-round quarterback selection.
None of these options are ideal, but this isn't going to be an ideal season for Oakland.
In what is likely to be another losing season in Oakland, the Raiders need to make sure it has value by helping their future.
They can best do this by getting out from Palmer's contract, making smart draft picks and getting a better feel for what they have with Pryor.