Examining Raiders' Failed Carson Palmer Experiment and What's Next for QB

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Examining Raiders' Failed Carson Palmer Experiment and What's Next for QB
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

It wasn't exactly a Herschel Walker-esque fleecing, but the Cincinnati Bengals got the best of the 2011 trade they made with the Raiders that sent quarterback Carson Palmer to Oakland in exchange for a 2012 first-round pick and a 2013 second-round pick. 

Less than two years removed from that deal, the Palmer experiment has failed, and now, there's a chance he won't play another down in Oakland. 

Sources tell Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver that Palmer isn't willing to restructure his huge contract, a "move that could lead to his outright release." Also, "the quarterback's decision, according to three sources familiar with Palmer's mindset, is based on a sense that Oakland's prospects for success in 2013 are so bleak that money is no longer the predominant factor in his thought process."

USA TODAY Sports

With a base salary of $13 million in 2013, all signs are pointing to the 33-year-old former No. 1 overall pick playing elsewhere, potentially as a backup, this upcoming season. 

Palmer compiled an 8-16 record as a starter with the Raiders, and he threw 35 touchdowns with 30 interceptions. 

Where did the Palmer experiment go wrong? 

 

Mid-season start

They say it takes time for a quarterback to establish a rapport with his pass-catchers, and Palmer's time to formulate a connection with his receivers and tight ends in Oakland was significantly limited. He was traded on October 18 and was forced to play in the next week's game on October 23 against the Kansas City Chiefs thanks to a horrendous outing by Kyle Boller.

The result?

Palmer finished the game 8-of-21 for 116 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions in a 28-0 defeat.

Cary Emondson-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Palmer and then head coach Hue Jackson had a vast history together, but the rust hadn't been entirely shaken off. 

Remember, before that, the veteran quarterback hadn't played a game since January 2, his final regular-season game with the Bengals. 

Playing the quarterback position is just as, if not more, mental than it is physical, and after experiencing a dismal season in Cincinnati the previous year, Palmer's tenure in Oakland certainly didn't help his psyche.

He lost the following week to the Denver Broncos while throwing three more picks. 

Palmer did lead the Raiders to three-straight wins after his 0-2 start, but then, another aspect of his ultimate downfall was made apparent. 

 

Defensive struggles 

Oftentimes, the impact a bad defense has on a quarterback is overlooked. 

With an overall 7-4 record in 2011, the Raiders were in the playoff hunt heading into their game with the Miami Dolphins

Then, the defense showed its true colors. 

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The 3-8 Dolphins, led by Matt Moore, hung a 34-spot on Oakland. 

After that, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers scored 41 points in a win, and the following week, the Raiders defense collapsed in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions

Though Palmer accumulated an abundance of passing yards in that critical three-game stretch, he threw four touchdowns to five interceptions and had an average QB rating of 77.4.

When a quarterback's defense is struggling, he's usually forced into obvious passing situations, and most signal-callers have a tendency to force the issue when trailing.

The Raiders finished the 2011 campaign with a defense that allowed the 28th-most yards per drive and 27th-most points per drive, according to FootballOutsiders.com.

Unfortunately for Palmer, the defense didn't improve in 2012. 

Although they surrendered the 18th-most yards per drive, the Raiders gave up the most points per drive in the NFL.

Palmer threw for over 4,000 yards, but much of his weekly yardage came with Oakland in dire second-half situations. 

In fact, he attempted 40 or more passes in seven games, the most in any one season of his entire career. 

 

Skill-Position Trouble

The receivers in Oakland weren't terrible, but they didn't exactly make life easy for Palmer. Darrius Heyward-Bey had somewhat of a career resurgence with Palmer at the helm in 2011 with 64 catches for 975 yards and four touchdowns, but he never truly threatened defenses and never took that next step as a traditional No. 1.

Denarius Moore flashed moments of absolute electricity, but he too was unable to play consistently. 

Most importantly, though, was Darren McFadden's inability to stay healthy. 

Before the Palmer trade, Run DMC was among the league's most productive backs in 2011, and as fate would have it, he injured his foot in the Chiefs game prior to Palmer's appearance and didn't play again until 2012. 

In all likelihood, the thundering presence of McFadden played a major role in the acquisition of Palmer.

Switching to a new zone-blocking scheme in 2012, McFadden simply wasn't the same runner, so just like the second-half of 2011, defenses could zero in on Palmer and the Oakland passing game. 

Palmer didn't play behind an amazing offensive line either, but the three aforementioned reasons were the most profound factors behind his undoing with the Raiders. 

 

What's Next?

According to Silver's article, a source told him: "Carson isn't 28, and he doesn't know how much time he has left. Does he want to be with a team that is clearly rebuilding and looks like it's a long way away from contending, where he doesn't have a whole lot around him?"

He would be a logical fit with Bruce Arians' vertical passing game in Arizona with the Cardinals, but he may have to settle for a backup role on another club. Right now, maybe that's what Carson Palmer wants. 

 

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